“The high school asked students for nominations, investigated the ones most named, then put them up for a vote, Principal Brent Belveal said. After additional research, the school narrowed down the top three possibilities and put them out for another vote.
"The choice was overwhelmingly 'RedHawks,'" he said.”
“After splitting from Albany Union High School in 1971,students that were entering as Seniors that year, were given the choice to stay and graduate from Albany Union or go to South Albany High School and be part of the first graduating class from there.
The school chose "Rebel" as their mascot ; athletic teams we nicknamed "the Rebels”. The Rebel was removed and changed to the RedHawks on April 25, 2018. The school's colors are red and grey and were not changed when the mascot was changed.”
“South Albany didn’t become the Rebels until 1971, more than 100 years after the South lost the Civil War. Students and faculty chose the mascot as a cheeky joke. They were breaking off from Albany’s larger Union High School and thought it would be fun to play off the theme of secession.
Because Albany Union High School teams wore blue, just like Northern soldiers during the Civil War, South Albany adopted red and gray. The dance team became known as the Southern Belles. The sports teams and the marching band used a Confederate flag as a show of school pride.”
"It's time to change the mascot and to move away from the ties that the mascot has had with the Confederacy," said Sam Sachs, who graduated from South Albany High in 1986.
"I scored the winning touchdown against West Albany my junior year, 7-6. After the game, I ran around the field with the Confederate flag...had no idea the significance of what that flag meant to communities, athletes, parents, and people of color," said Sachs.
Instead of touchdowns, he now runs a non-profit called The No Hate Zone focused on ending hate and racism in Oregon. He's hoping the district will remove the Rebels from his school.