Students in Anaheim Call for Change of High School’s Confederate Mascot

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A high school in Anaheim's Confederate soldier mascot has stirred up controversy amid a larger national debate over the way secessionist rebels should be treated in modern America.

Since the school was founded in the 1960s, students have rallied around Johnny Rebel, a Confederate soldier.

Though sometimes depicted as a cartoon, in many places on the school's campus he is portrayed with a photo of a Confederate soldier, brandishing a gun as he appears to charge into battle. Elsewhere, including the school's website, it is declared as the "home of rebel pride."

A statue of the figure previously stood in the school's quad from 1964 until 2009, when it was removed due to decay, according to the Orange County Register.

In 2015, the removal was made permanent when the Anaheim Union High School District board struck down a bid to restore the statue due to its controversial nature, Savanna Principal Carlos Hernandez said in a statement.

That same year the school also took down a Confederate flag that flew above the campus, OC Weekly reported.

But the debate surrounding Johnny Rebel did not disappear, and students at the school and community members are speaking out about their wish for the mascot to change.

Student Aaron Showalter said he feels his school should "rebrand" to remove the mascot's ties to the Confederacy.

“I don’t think being a rebel is a problem but I think that Johnny Rebel, the actual mascot, is a problem,” he said.

Several other students told KTLA they believe the mascot should be changed but did not want to go on record out of concern for their safety.

The student body planned to present their concerns to school administrators during a forum scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The meeting was scheduled after the school board received complaints about the mascot and students began discussing the potential change on social media.

"The board of trustees, as elected representatives of the community, has final authority over the mascot, but seeks the student voice and sees this as a 'teachable moment' for students," Principal Hernandez said in a statement. "Since Savanna is a California Democracy School, this issue will test the staff and students as to whether there can be civil discourse about a controversial, but relevant, national issue."

The week before the student-led town hall, social studies classes at the school focused on the debate.

The school district could potentially make its final decision at a Nov. 2 board meeting, where community members will also be able to give their input, Hernandez said.

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