HAYS COUNTY, Texas - On Thursday evening, seven board members will consider retiring Hays High School's "Rebel" mascot.
Hays CISD is proposing the change after releasing a statement earlier this month. If they vote to retire the Rebel, they'll keep the name until a new mascot is decided at a later date.
Hays High School has gone through quite the amount of changes in the past couple of decades.
In 2000 Hays CISD eliminated the use of the Confederate flag as the official school symbol. In 2012 the display of the flag was banned in all its entirety both in school and personally. In 2015, following the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, "Dixie" was also removed as Hays High School's fight song.
"At that time the thought and the hope was now that the Confederate flag and the Cixie were removed maybe we can rebrand the Rebel and kind of a 21st-century rebel someone like a Steve Jobs, someone you can consider in the technology industry someone who challenges the status quo and leads change," Tim Savoy, Hays CISD Chief Communication Officer said. "But following the murder of George Floyd and the feedback we were getting on that, it's clear to us there's no way to separate rebels at Hays and those previous symbols of the Confederacy, there's just no way."
Through the years the mascot has been the rebel, but right now on their website and on campus, signage displays an uppercase red "H" with the word "rebel" in blue cursive lettering.
Rising seniors Zoe Reyna and Alena Hernandez have been leading the most recent student-led initiative for Hays High School to have a change for good. "The depiction of a rebel of a school symbol is disgusting in my opinion it's just not right," said Reyna.
They've been driving their main goal to have the rebel removed completely through social media.
"I know students that are uncomfortable and have been uncomfortable all 3 years I've gone there. A lot of the kids that were trying to get this changed in 2015 I knew them. I already knew how far back the change goes," Reyna added.
So, on Thursday, when the school board meets, they will either vote to remove the rebel as its mascot or keep it as is. If they vote to retire the rebel, they'll keep the name until a new mascot is decided at a later date.
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"We've had a coach that's said a couple of athletes say that they weren't personally experiencing any kind of racism, but in solidarity with everything that's going on in the rest of the country, we would definitely not make a student wear it if the board vote makes the change and transition to a new mascot," Savoy said.
In a poll sent out by the district in June, the majority of students said they didn't feel comfortable with the rebel and wrote in newly suggested mascots.
Patriots, Cowboys, and Hawks were top picks. The board will vote on that as well at a later date.
Hays CISD says because of delays surrounding COVID-19, the process of finalizing designs, signage, and uniforms will need to be a thorough process with the students.
"We would probably be looking at starting in January, spring semester with a new mascot maybe it would go through the end of the year we would have to see the least impact it would have," Savoy said.
Reyna says, "I hope they choose Hays Hawks, it's just my preference. I would rather we didn't go with something problematic or a racially charged background like a cowboy or patriot."
The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening at Johnson High School. The meeting is closed to the public, however, it will be live-streamed. If you'd like to speak during the meeting, there's a way you can sign-up virtually from 8 a.m. to noon Thursday.