WYOMING, Mich. — The Godfrey-Lee Board of Education voted Monday to get rid of the Rebels name and mascot associated with the district. They made the announcement with a news release.
The Rebels mascot is a Confederate symbol.
The board's decision comes after two community meetings, a student focus group and a survey. The board decided that the "'Lee Rebels' and the associated symbolism and historic relationship did not reflect the diversity of our district, the community, and the world in which our students will live, work and raise a family," the release said.
Godfrey-Lee Public Schools is located in Wyoming. The district has nearly 2,000 students.
The phrase "Lee Rebels" is internalized and used within and outside the community, board members said. But they "feared the extensive use of Confederate symbols from the past, and the current context of the name, could have a negative impact on students, staff, and families."
The name will be phased out, and the district will appoint a working group to make recommendations for a new name and mascot that will represent the district. The group will consist of board members, staff, students and community members.
“A name and mascot should be inclusive and bring pride to each member of our school family," said Board President Eric Mockerman. "That is not our current reality, and the time is right to make it right.”
According to the news release, the board has been examining and reviewing the district's identity since June 2018. "During the review process, strong sentiments were expressed on both sides of the issue but what was clear, from all involved, was the pride in Godfrey-Lee Public Schools."
The district emphasized that they hope that district stakeholders will be united as they move forward with the mascot change.
The district posted their news release on Facebook, and comments show a mixed reaction. Some are supportive of the board's decision while others disagree with the change.
Nationwide, monuments honoring Confederate soldiers have been targeted for removal since the 2015 Charleston church shooting where nine African-American parishioners were shot and killed.
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