Controversy swirls around Ritchie County High School’s ‘Rebels’ nickname

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 7:15 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2020 at 10:22 AM EDT
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RITCHIE COUNTY, W.Va (WTAP) - Ritchie County High School is marred in a controversy over the use of “Rebels” as its team name.

And although the team’s mascot and school has no association with the confederacy, there are still people who bring confederate flags to games.

There are people people in the community on both sides of the argument.

Resident Edward Cokeley is among those who thinks it’s time to make a change.

Unfortunately, there’s been too much controversy over the years. I know there have been confrontations with school officials and individuals bringing confederate flags to ball games. I know my kids, when they went to state meets for track and cross country, they would receive comments from other kids about, “Why are you in West Virginia with a confederate mascot?”

Edward Cokeley, Ritchie County resident

Those on Cokeley’s side think that the mascot should be changed because they no longer want the connection to something derogatory. It also would go against West Virginia’s history and what the state stood for during the Civil War as a state that broke away from Virginia to be a part of the Union.

Those on the opposite side want to continue the name’s history based on its origin when the school was first built.

Superintendent Jim Brown said the name ‘Rebels’ came about because of the controversy over consolidating community schools into Ritchie County High School.

It had nothing to do with anything that would be considered derogatory.

Jim Brown, Ritchie County Schools Superintendent

The board of education will have a meeting at 6 p.m. July 6 to hear concerns about the team name.

There is a petition being created to ask that the name be changed, but it won’t be released to the public until after the July 6 meeting.

Copyright 2020 WTAP. All rights reserved.

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