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Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

RANDOLPH, Rich County — National controversy over Confederate soldiers is pushing Rich High School to change its mascot.

For more than 30 years, a rebel soldier wearing the Confederate gray uniform stood as its symbol, but that's about to change.

Principal Rick Larsen said national controversy made it clear to the school board that it needed to change the mascot, but a couple of students came up with a solution where they won't have to change everything.

There can be a sense of pride in whatever symbol represents a school. Ander Rex, 16, and Reagan Huefner, 17, both juniors at Rich High, said they had never thought that the school's Confederate Man could be seen as racist.

"I've never saw it as what people thought of it to be," Rex said.

But they say they understood why it needs to change.

"To us, the Rebel Guy is just our high school mascot, and we've always looked up to it and been excited, and we've all been sad to see it's been associated with that kind of feeling of negativity," Huefner said.

Larsen said there are strong arguments for and against the change in the community, but he agreed with the school board that a high school is not the place to make a political stand.

"We're going to kind of in public education, stay away from the controversial issues," Larsen said. "We want to create a safe learning environment for our students and a positive learning environment for our students."

Rex ultimately had the idea to shift to a different kind of rebel.

"So if you go like Revolutionary War, look at it, like we were against the British, and I always thought that standpoint was better than the one that we had now," Rex said.

"It means something positive to a lot of people around here, so we wanted to find a positive way to represent the name Rebels," Huefner said.

Larsen said the students came up with a real positive approach.

"It was neat to see the students come up with a positive solution," Larsen said. "Two of the students came up with the idea of a Revolutionary rebel; of keeping rebel name, the same colors, but transitioning or rebranding to a Revolutionary colonial rebel, the original rebels."

At first, Rex and Huefner said they didn't think anyone would vote for their idea.

"I didn't personally think it would go anywhere, but apparently it did," Rex said.

"Students really took it and just ran with it," Huefner said. "I feel like we had more support than we thought we would."

In a survey among students, Larsen said about 80 percent agreed the best move forward would be to make a shift to our nation's Founding Fathers.

"Honestly, these rebels won their war," Rex said. "So we can look at it, at that point of view, too, sort of a patriotic good feel."

Revolutionary Rebel designs are being worked on by students. Rex and Huefner are hopeful the final result will be positive.

"The Revolutionary Rebel is a great mascot," Larsen said. "Stands for what this country is about, and why this country came to be and there are a lot of great figures in the Founding Fathers of who you can find as great examples of that revolutionary rebel."

The Rich County School Board will approve the final design before the mascot is changed. It will cost an estimated $3,200 to change the mascot on the gym floor and common area wall. The uniforms will be likely phased out within a couple of years.

Email: manderson@deseretnews.com

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