GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Godfrey-Lee Public Schools Board of Education voted to nix the Rebel Mascot Monday night, prompting some to say “about time” and others to call the move “dumb.”
The Wyoming school district had been debating the idea over the past few months. The board president says a graduate of the district sparked the conversation with a comment on Facebook.
“(He was) just posing that question, ‘Is it time to have this conversation?’ Our answer was, ‘Yes, it’s time to have this conversation,'” Eric Mockerman, Godfrey-Lee’s school board president, said Tuesday. “We need to make a change.”
The process included community meetings and an online platform for those connected to the district to provide their opinion.
District leaders say the popular opinion was to keep the mascot as is. They decided to change it anyway.
“We have defined what it means here,” Mockerman said. “The rest of the world, the rest of society, doesn’t see it the way we do.”
The district plans to slowly phase the Rebel out; it won’t be an immediate change. School leaders will assemble a group that will come up with a recommendation for a new mascot.
Reaction was immediate online.
“About time,” one supporter of the decision wrote. “Having spent my school years there in the ’60s and ’70s it never felt right looking at that flag and mascot. Well done.”
Others had a more hostile greeting to the move:
“That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard and its (sic) pathetic that you are changing the name and mascot to accommodate other people’s feelings, that’s what’s wrong with our world now days,” a critic wrote on Facebook. “If they dont (sic) like it go to a different school plain and simple.”
Superintendent Kevin Polson said he recognizes the division in the district around the issue but in the end hopes it brings the community together.
“I think it’s a way to galvanize our identity so it’s inclusive of every member of our school family,” Polson said.