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Walpole Schools Will Change Controversial ‘Rebels' Nickname

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A Massachusetts school district has announced plans to change the controversial nickname of its mascot.

Long the home of the "Rebels," schools in Walpole will abandon the name over its racist historical ties.

The school committee voted unanimously Thursday to stop using the name for athletic teams. It's been a controversial topic for decades. In the 1980s, the schools halted the wearing of Confederate flags on uniforms and the playing of Dixie.

A couple of years ago, there was an attempt to rebrand the school mascot to make it less offensive.

"It was time for it to go," said Diego Dorronsoro, a 2018 graduate.

"I played soccer for all four years. I don't necessarily agree with the name change," said Jack Floro-Sousa from the class of 2020.

"It does have races ties, but I don't think that's what it stands for anymore," said junior Haidar Frarj. "I believe we've created a new meaning for the name."

Hundreds took part in an online school committee forum this week. It was a frank discussion about the history of the nickname in the predominantly white community.

"Once they're offensive to any person, I believe we have to honor that that's how it feels to them, so I'm ready to have that 'Rebels' go," said Walpole resident Rosemary Dean.

"Other towns, when they hear the name, they take offense to it, and I don't think any group should be offended coming into a high school building," Dorronsoro said.

The superintendent plans to appoint a committee to help the schools come up with a new nickname.

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