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Sacred Heart’s New Mascot: the History and Process

  • 26 February 2021
  • Author: Alisha Koonce
  • Number of views: 187
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Since its origin in 1879, Sacred Heart has been a unique and special school. For all associated, Sacred Heart evokes a sense of pride. This pride comes from our hard work, our persistence, and most of all our faith. There is a pride in the sacrifice parents make to send their children to Sacred Heart. There is pride in the time volunteered at the events that keep Sacred Heart financially stable another year. There is pride in the hard work a diploma represents from a school that not only values education, but also the Catholic faith. While this pride may feel connected to a name, it actually comes from something much deeper.

Although this change may feel sudden for some, it is actually the culmination of a process that began decades ago. As early as 1991, the school was facing questions about the use of confederate images when the principal at the time was interviewed about the mascot by Catholic News Service. At the time, other Catholic schools were considering and making changes to their mascots, a trend which has continued and increased in recent years. In 2005-2006, then Sacred Heart pastor Fr. Charlie Thessing removed the image of Johnny Rebel and the confederate flag from the gym floor. Since then, the school used the images less and less, ultimately deciding in 2018 to remove the image from the scoreboard and to keep the rebel name, but not use any of the original images.

In the fall of 2020, after yet another debate about whether or not the mascot should be changed, the school board arrived at a deadlocked vote. Msg. Harris made the final decision and our school began the process of selecting a new mascot. A committee reviewed proposals from Sacred Heart students, but could not come to a strong agreement, which led the establishment of the task force. This task force surveyed Sacred Heart constituents for mascot nominations and, after great deliberation, chose the three best options.  Students, parents, and alumni were then asked to rank the three. Ultimately, Knights was overwhelmingly selected.

Our alumni are an important part of the Sacred Heart family.  Many identify with the Rebel mascot, but some also remember prior mascots, including the Gridders and Panthers. Rebels was chosen in 1962; our Rebel teams are a part of our history and will not be forgotten. To all those who graduated a Rebel, your legacy remains intact. You will always be a Rebel and can be proud of identifying as such.

Today, we are looking to the future and attempting to provide our students the experience of having a full mascot.  While it is hard to make any change, especially in a place steeped in tradition like Sacred Heart, we hope everyone understands we are looking to the safety and well-being of our current and future students.

This process has not been an easy task, but it has been handled with the best interest of the school as the highest priority. The rebel mascot has been in place for 59 years, but Sacred Heart has been here for 142 years. We hope and pray to be around for many more, open to all students, and always representing the loving and welcoming message of Christ. Through all of this, one fact remains true: we are Sacred Heart Catholic School and that is the common thread that weaves through our school community.

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