Students lead push to change Hays High School mascot

Hays CISD officials said they will consider changing the Hays High School mascot, the Rebel, if enough students and faculty support the idea. 

Many students and community members feel the mascot is a nod to the Confederacy and have asked for the change amid protests against racial injustice. The district said several students reached out to them about changing the mascot at Hays High School.

“It's not something I'm extremely proud of. I don't really walk around being like, ‘Oh, I'm a rebel,’” said Alena Hernandez, a soon to be senior at HHS. 

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As the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum across the country, Hernandez couldn't help but think about the message her school was sending with their Rebel mascot.

“So, going to different events and seeing the image that other schools have of our school, it's hurtful seeing that they view us as racist just because of things like our mascot,” Hernandez said. 

The mascot was adopted by the school in the late 60s during the Civil Rights Movement. The district and high school banned the Confederate flag and got rid of the Dixie fight song five years ago, but district officials said they received a lot of criticism for doing so without asking students' opinions. So they committed not to make any changes to the mascot unless students lead the call. 


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Hernandez and several of her classmates have stepped up to do just that. 

“We do not need to commemorate the fact that there were rebels and that they did exist here. Because, at the end of the day, this is the South. This is where slavery happened. This is where a lot of that was held onto. So, I think that letting go of that history, while still learning about it, and making yourself educated, it doesn't need to be commemorated in the form of mascot,” said Hernandez. 

A few people who live near the school and did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation said they have mixed emotions about the idea because their children graduated as Rebels years ago, but their opinions won't be part of the decision making process. 

Instead, the district plans to send out surveys strictly to current high school students and faculty to hear their feedback.

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In a statement, Hays CISD officials write in part, "...Students and staff at the campus are the individuals who have to live with the campus mascot every day. Their voices must weigh heavily in the discussion surrounding the rebel mascot..."

The district said surveys and any student-led petitions will be considered before they make a recommendation to the board of trustees, which they expect to do this summer. 


“It is frustrating that it has taken this long to make this change, but I am glad that we will probably and hopefully be able to make it happen now,” Hernandez said. 

It will be up to the board of trustees to make the final decision on whether or not to make the change.