Effingham County High School will keep nickname ‘Rebels’

Posted: August 25, 2015 – 4:57pm  |  Updated: August 26, 2015 – 6:48am
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This file photo from the 2014 football game between Effingham County High School and South Effingham High School shows students with Confederate flags. (Jennifer Menster/Savannah Morning News)
effingham rebels.

School Superintendent Randy Shearouse said he doesn’t anticipate any other action being taken on the topic — at least not anytime soon. That means two drawings of the Confederate soldier on signs will remain inside the school, the band will still play “Dixie” and students will still be allowed to carry Confederate flags at sporting events.

Shearouse said the Board of Education will keep an open dialogue on the subject, but that no other changes are in the works.

Leroy Lloyd, president of the Effingham NAACP, said the board missed an opportunity.

“We are disappointed that they didn’t step up to the plate and make some real change,” he said.

More than 530 people attended a BOE meeting on Aug. 18, when the NAACP asked the board to remove the symbols from the high school. A majority of the mostly white crowd supported keeping the symbols in place.

Shearouse said the school system was proactive, changing the school logo from the caricature of the Confederate soldier to the letter “E” about 20 years ago.

“All uniforms, both school and athletic should only have this approved ‘E’ and the school system will ensure adherence to this rule,” Shearouse said in a news release issued Tuesday.

An NAACP speaker at the Aug. 18 meeting held up caps from recent school baseball teams that had the caricature of the Confederate soldier.

Shearouse said some coaches and students may have purchased such uniform items in the recent past, but that the principal will now enforce the “E” rule. Shearouse has said the school doesn’t have a mascot. The drawings of the Confederate soldier are left over from previous classes and will be left in place.

Regarding students carrying Confederate flags at sporting events, Shearouse said he does not anticipate any changes.

“There would be issues if we restricted that,” he said. “People do still have rights.”

“Effingham County High School will continue using the rebel name not as a name of hate, but as a name associated with pride in one’s school and its traditions,” Shearouse said in the news release.

“Fortunately, even with the distractions outside of school this past week, our student body has behaved admirably,” he said. “They have pride in Effingham County High School and respect for each other.”

Lloyd said about 60 people from the NAACP met in Guyton on Monday night, vowing to fight against the Confederate symbols and creating committees to increase involvement in the school system.

Francys Johnson, president of the Georgia NAACP, said the group would consider carefully before taking any legal action.

Johnson urged everyone at the meeting to get involved in the education system and help improve the graduation rate of all students in the county.