School Board Committee Votes To Ban “Dixie” Song & Rebel Mascot At Southside High School

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)- A Fort Smith School Board committee passed a motion Tuesday (June 23) to ban the "Dixie" song during the 2015-2016 school year and to replace the rebel mascot for the 2016-2017 school year.

The motion passed five to zero. Susan McFerran, a member of the school board, said the decision comes after the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and a recent class reunion.

"There was a 30 year class reunion this weekend," she said. "It came to our attention that the public has been pretty upset about the Confederate flag, which has already been removed, the rebel mascot [and] the playing of the 'Dixie.'"

Caleb Coleman just graduated from Southside and is against the board's decision.

"It will be kind of different, almost like a different school I think," he said. "All the different people that have gone through this school with athletics and different things, it will almost be like a school they didn't play for really."

Kelly Wingfield graduated from Southside in 1981. She remembers when the school flew the Confederate flag on campus.

"I feel like maybe it is time to get rid of it," Wingfield said. "[For] some people it does bring bad memories of a bad time in our history. I think it would be just probably better."

The board said they will turn to students for help in picking a new mascot and song.

"We said it will be kind of fun to have a contest to pick the new songs," McFerran said.

The school will have to make changes to some of its uniforms.

"We've got the orchestra, the band, Dixie bells, the cheerleaders, football team, basketball team, softball team, soccer tennis golf," McFerran said.

The school board will hold its final vote on the decision at its regular board meeting on July 27 and will be open to the public.