Fairfax High School drops ‘Rebel Pride’

A high school in Fairfax County, Virginia, is dropping the name associated with a mascot that has Confederacy ties.

The Fairfax High School community has been known as “Rebel Pride,” but Principal Erin Lenart said in a letter that moving forward, its students will be known as the “Fairfax Lions.”

“At Fairfax, we pride ourselves on inclusivity, family, belongingness, respect, and integrity, and given the history of Rebel, it is time for a change,” Lenart wrote.

Founded in 1936, its mascot was Johnny Reb, the image of a Confederate soldier. It was removed in 1985 by then-Principal Harry Holsinger.

The school community then became known as Rebel Rouser and then Rebel Pride.

“Each iteration maintained some element of Rebel, and the most recent iteration, Rebel Pride, is a phrase frequently used in tribute to the Confederacy,” said Lenart, adding that she does not believe that was intention of the students who participated in the change.

The name change has been in the works since September, and Lenart said Fairfax County Public Schools and the City of Fairfax will work together to remove the Rebel name over the coming school year, when it is fiscally responsible.

This past school year, new uniforms had been purchased without the team name, and any “centrally-school created items” did not display Rebel, Lenart said.

The school is located at 3501 Rebel Run in Fairfax, Virginia.

The Fairfax County School Board also voted unanimously to consider renaming Mosby Woods Elementary School in Fairfax, which carries the name of Confederate Col. John S. Mosby.

That process is expected to begin in late-July.

Schools across Virginia that were named for Confederate figures have been discussing changing names in the past several years.

In February, the Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously to begin a formal discussion about changing the name of a high school in Springfield.

Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia is looking to quickly rename its two schools that have carried the name of a Confederate general for decades.

A year ago, an Arlington County high school was renamed Washington-Liberty. And after years of debate, a Falls Church high school was renamed Justice High School in 2017.

In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam recently ordered a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond to be removed. A judge has extended a court order preventing its removal.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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