Southside Mascot and Song Change Causes Controversy

Southside Mascot and Song Change Causes Controversy

Allyson Merrill , Editor/Interviewer

The “Rebel” and “Dixie” have been used as Southside High School’s mascot and fight song for over 50 years. According to the Arkansas Times, over the summer the school board decided to make a change to the fight song and mascot because they were told by members of the community that the symbols could be considered racist. The motion to change the song was passed with a 6-0 vote by the board in July. According to the board, they will be phasing out the “Rebel” mascot next year.

It has taken some by surprise because of the sudden change in tradition, and have left many asking why.

“It was time to change the fight song, and it’s only natural to change the Rebel mascot also,” said Wayne Haver, the principal at Southside.

The new Southside Mascot has recently been chosen.The Fort Smith School Board voted 5-2 in favor of making “Mavericks” the new mascot for Southside High School at a school board meeting on Oct. 26.


Many people have opinions on the mascot and song change; some are for it, and some are against it.

“I dislike both of the changes that are being made, but I’m a leader and am willing to conform to the new standards of the school,” said Collin Gushing, a sophomore at Southside.

Along with the change of the fight song and mascot, the Dixie Belles (dance team) are being forced to change their name as well.

“The name that may take the place of ‘Dixie’ in the Dixie Belle name has not yet been chosen. The decision will come when a mascot is chosen,” said Linden Ocker, sponsor of the Dixie Belles.

“When I first heard of the mascot change, I was not in favor. As a Dixie Belle, so many of our traditions would be changed. But having a bad attitude about the mascot change would not get any of us anywhere. I really like the new mascot. I think it will allow Southside to make many new great traditions,” said Emily Kaelin, a senior at Southside.

And it’s not just the students who have opinions on the sudden change.

“As an educator, I stand by the school board’s decision. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. With such a controversial issue, it is easy to be upset about the change to heritage and tradition. Southside High will still be an excellent school with high standards and expectations. We will continue to proudly represent the community,” said Ocker.


Ocker believes that tradition will continue in spite of the new fight song and mascot.

“The Dixie Belles will always be rooted in tradition. It is my job to continue the foundation of what The Belles have built, regardless of their name. The Dixie Belles were able to transition well by setting the “Dixie” routine to a new song. We are looking forward to creating exciting choreography to the new fight song to embrace our school spirit,” said Ocker.

Since change is coming, questions have been raised on what the new fight song is going to be.

“The new fight song is called ‘Southside Fight’ and is played to the tune of ‘The Wabash Cannonball,’” said Sean Carrier, band director at Southside. “The band started working on the new fight song on Aug. 3. The change of songs has been hard; however, our students have been awesome and adapted very well.”

The song was officially changed on July 27 and will most likely stay this way for years to come.

Although the protests against the change have been unprecedented, the decision has been made and the Southside tradition of Rebels and Dixies will never  be the same.