HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico County’s Douglas S. Freeman High School will retire its “Rebels” nickname.
The decision comes after Douglas S. Freeman. Principal John Marshall announced that he was seeking feedback on whether to the mascot. A committee of community members, students, and staff voted to recommend the change after analyzing community input collected in June and July, according to a statement from a Henrico County School’s spokesperson. The review process drew more than 2,000 comments, including around 1,500 responses through an online form. The input also included emails, social media posts, handwritten notes, voicemails, videos, and an online panel discussion on the topic.
Now, the school administration will work to choose a new mascot in the coming months.
“Following several months of listening, dialogue, and careful reflection with the help of a thoughtful and passionate committee, there is no need to wait,” said John Marshall, Douglas Freeman principal, in a letter emailed to members of the school community. “It is clear that now is the time to retire the ‘Rebels’ mascot, to leave it as a part of our history and not carry it into our future. We will adopt a new symbol that better represents our school as a forward-thinking, inclusive, welcoming place for all students.
“Now that this decision has been made the best thing to do for our school and students is to focus all of our energies into reuniting as a family. We have been a model in so many ways for many years, academically, athletically, and this summer, a model for how to have a civil dialogue within our family. It’s now time to show the world how a family comes together after an impassioned disagreement. I ask this for the benefit of our students and school. I can think of no better example of putting school over self than rallying behind something we disagree with because it is better for others.”
The mascot’s name was selected in 1954, the year the school opened, and was inspired by books on Confederate subjects written by the school’s namesake, Douglas S. Freeman. Principal John Marshall wrote that the school has worked to re-frame the meaning of the word over time.