KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – After 70 years, the mascot of West High School in Knoxville could be changing.

The school’s mascot has been a rebel since it opened in 1951 and Knox County Schools says a petition challenging the moniker was received earlier this year. Per Knox County Schools procedure AP-F-140-2, West High School will host community meetings to get more feedback about the mascot.

KCS said the first meeting will be on held Nov. 29 and the second on December 6. Both meetings will run from 5:30 – 7 p.m. Families will also have the opportunity to share their thoughts in a survey that will be distributed during the first week of December.

The petition says the mascot does not align with the values of the school and administrative procedure that states a mascot, team name, school colors and other identifiers shall be respectful of diverse cultural values.

“Our current mascot is not respectful to people of color in our community because it is representative of the Confederate Army which fought to take away their rights. It is important to make everyone feel comfortable and accepted in our schools and this mascot could cause discomfort in our student community.”

Petition challenging West High School mascot

“We take great pride in our efforts to be supportive, inclusive and culturally responsive,” West High Principal Ashley Speas said in an email sent to families. “We recognize that the name ‘rebels’ can have different meanings and connotations, and we welcome this opportunity to listen to our students, parents, staff, alumni and other valued members of our school community as we consider how to move forward.”

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