Controversy brews over Vestavia High mascot

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VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — UPDATE: The Vestavia Hills BOE amended their agenda for Wednesday, July 15 to include the mascot.

ORIGINAL: Controversy over confederate symbols has made its way down the flag pole and into schools.

Some parents are rallying against school mascots, including the Vestavia Hills High School’s “rebel.”

“The events in Charleston — the murder — gave the whole country and opportunity to pause and say, ‘What do we represent?'” said Clinton Colmenares, whose daughter attends a Vestavia City School, referring to the shooting that claimed nine lives in a South Carolina church, and subsequent calls to remove Confederate flags from the state capitol.

Colmenares is one of several parents in Vestavia who say the Rebel represents the wrong idea.

“I think a high school mascot is one that represents athletics, and our aggressiveness, and our excellence and our competitiveness as athletes,” Colmenares said. “But it’s also one that’s inclusive, not divisive. Simple as that.”

Those parents are asking the Vestavia Hills Board of Education to get rid of the Rebel and come up with a new mascot.

“As our culture becomes more diverse here in the south, we want our mascot to reflect that diversity and cohesion,” said a mother named Wendy, who asked that WIAT not reveal her last name because she’s received threats on social media from people on the other side of the issue.

WIAT obtained images from a Facebook thread, which has since been made private, containing comments both for and against the Rebel mascot. We reached out to commenters who supported the mascot, but none responded.

“I’m concerned that all this is going to put a wedge between those students that wasn’t there before,” one supporter wrote on the Facebook thread, pointing out that students of all races get along at Vestavia High, and that several African American students have worn the Rebel costume at games.

The Vestavia Hills Board of Education will allow public comment on the issue at a work sesson on Wednesday, July 8 at 6 p.m. at the Vestavia City Schools building.

The school system said it will not comment until that work session.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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