An English class at Robert E. Lee High in Staunton is trying to approve an official school mascot.
The "Fighting Leemen" have not had a physical mascot in decades, and the students think it is time they got one.
Their mascot idea is a Civil War-era general they have named "Lee Man."
The students never meant to stir up controversy involving the Confederate general for whom their school is named.
They say the mascot is about school spirit.
"Everybody in favor at the school board was like, yes, they agree with it, and they will just see with the community, and then it just brought this whole controversy," says Keoshia Crawford, who presented the idea to the city school board.
Jaron Venable, citing other Confederate landmarks in the area, says, "Well, I don't really understand why people are making such a big deal about it. I mean, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, he was a general in the Confederate army. I mean, if we can have a hotel and a school, why not have a mascot?"
"It's no rebel, any symbols, or anything like that. That was the wrong interpretation of everything," says Katie Dice, another student who presented the idea to the Staunton School Board.
"We're not trying to offend anybody. That's the last thing we're trying to do," comments Taylor Davis, a classmate who is in favor of the mascot.
"They said it is a negative influence," says Daquaa Scott, who is also in favor of the proposed mascot. "How can it be a negative influence if our school is called Robert E. Lee?"
One student has already volunteered to wear a costume for the mascot.
Aaron Springel, one of the students in the class, said students can't wait for the new mascot to be approved.
"I'm actually the person who volunteered to be the mascot. I just thought it would kind of happen, like we thought of a mascot idea, we thought it would already like, be a mascot," adds Springel. "We didn't ever think it would go this far, people would actually be offended by just a guy running around getting people hype at a football game. People come up to me every day at school, asking me if I'm going to be the mascot, and they are mad that I'm not the mascot yet."
The students want to adjust the mascot to wear blue and white so it would match the school colors.
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