CALEDONIA, MISS. (WCBI) – For the first time since 1957, Caledonia schools have a new name.
On November 13, students at Caledonia’s elementary, middle, and high schools voted to rename themselves the Cavaliers after parents and community members called for the removal of the nickname Confederates earlier in the year.
“Such a big change for our school in something that’s important,” says Caledonia High School freshman Lucy Willcutt. “Because a mascot is who we are.”
The Lowndes County School District’s board voted unanimously to remove the long-time Confederates or “Feds” name in July. They then tasked a nine-member committee of the schools’ three principals, two community members, and four CHA students to pick a new name.
“So we can have something we can be proud of,” says CHS junior and football player Will Donald. “A mascot that we can all feel unified under and be able to go out there on a Friday night and be proud of it.”
When deciding on the new mascot, students said they wanted something that still incorporated the familiar ‘C’ logo and the crossed swords.
“Out whole saying, ‘Swords Up,’ we all still get to keep those memories,” says CHS sophomore Lisa Basset. “As a cheerleader, it’s important to feel that, to have that on Friday nights.”
Basset, who is African American, was on the committee overseeing the renaming along with Willcutt, Donald and CHS senior Jarvis Lee. While she agrees it was time for the name to change, she also made it clear that none of her classmates have ever made her feel singled out or different because of the school’s old mascot.
“When it comes to the name, I never focused on it,” Basset says. “Of course, we all had it in the back of our mind, that’s what it represented, that’s what was in history.”
Donald says he believes that changing the name doesn’t change how close-knit the Caledonia community is.
“We have been the Confederates since I was playing pee wee football growing up but I don’t see the name as representing Caledonia the school,” he says.
Basset, Donald and Willcutt all said the majority of the feedback that they have heard about the change so far has been positive. The school says they will also be keeping their cardinal and white school colors.
“As a community as a whole, we have to represent something that all of us can stand by,” says Basset.