Walpole School Committee Votes To Replace "Rebels" Mascot

WALPOLE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — After a unanimous vote from the school committee, Walpole School District will no longer use its controversial "Rebels" nickname and mascot.

Hundreds of school community members joined the online committee forum this week to hear another bid that would move the school district away from its connections to the Confederacy.

According to the Boston Globe, Walpole school athletic teams once wore Confederate imagery on their uniforms, and the school band would play “Dixie” to accompany the "Rebel" moniker from 1968.

The vote over the name change happened in the wake of nationwide protests calling for communities to rethink their ties to Confederate-inspired names, statues, and memorials.

"It is time. Time for a change. Time for a progression to reach its conclusion. Time for this name to be laid to rest," said Superintendent Dr. Bridget Gough, a Walpole native, during the committee meeting. "As leaders, we know better, and therefore, we must do better. No matter the intent, the Rebel name will forever be linked to the Confederacy and racism."

While there was widespread support to ditch the "Rebels" mascot, not everyone approved of the change. That included current Walpole football coach Chris Sullivan, who voiced his opposition ahead of the vote.

"A Rebel does not hate," said Sullivan. "A Rebel does not see color. A Rebel is someone who rises up against the other team, or any injustice in this world. A Rebel simply works harder than the opposition.”

In a statement online, the School Committee said it was not a victory for either group.

"Wider and more difficult conversations now need to be held. The love of Walpole supersedes the fondness of a team name. It is the School Committee's hope that the Town will now band together to grow stronger, more resilient and united."

Superintendent Gough said she will appoint a committee to come up with new name options, and the School Committee voted unanimously to allow the students to vote on the new mascot.

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(Photo: Suzanne Sausville/Twitter)

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