School Committee Votes to Change the Rebel Name

Danielle Dentremont, Online Managing Editor

On June 18, the Walpole School Committee voted unanimously to change the name of the school mascot, the Rebels. On Tuesday, community members shared their perspectives—both in favor and opposed to the change—in a televised Zoom meeting before the committee members. 

After considering the connotations of the Rebel name and the majority of the Walpole community’s fervent calls to change the name, the Walpole School Committee has officially decided to permanently retire the name as well as its traditional logo with swords. This change will entail prohibiting the production of new merchandise that features the Rebel name, the formation of a School Committee Commission on Renaming and the establishment of a working group dedicated to leverage private funds that would hasten the institution of a new mascot. 

Financially, it would be unrealistic to remove all large scale infrastructure that bears the Rebel name immediately. As a result, the Rebel moniker on the high school track and snack shack will be removed in accordance with their regular replacement schedules—unless private donations are collected to cover the costs. In a similar manner, uniforms and sports gear that bear the Rebel name will be replaced on the same conditions. 

The School Committee Commission on Renaming will be required to include students and alumni of color, the high school principal, athletic director, varsity coaches, the METCO director, members of the student council, a representative of the alumni association, the director of the PRIDE initiative, a representative of the Gay Straight Alliance and a representative of the fine arts department. However, the committee is not limited to the members listed above, and 50 percent of membership must be held by WHS students and recent alumni. 

Athletic achievements of WHS’s sports teams under the Rebel name will not be dismissed as championship banners and trophies will remain unaltered. Additionally, championship trophies and banners awarded to WHS sports teams under the Hill Topper name will also be displayed alongside those under the Rebel name where possible. 

Although rebranding Walpole’s mascot and moniker is a priority to the school committee, no additional funds allocated for the current or upcoming school year will be expended on this renaming effort.