Students at Dixie M. Hollins High School have started a petition asking principal Robert Florio, Pinellas County superintendent Michael Grego and the Pinellas County School Board to change the name and the mascot of the school.
The proposal calls for dropping Dixie from the name and calling the school Hollins High. It also wants the Rebel mascot to be replaced.
Florio has acknowledged the request and will meet with students in the next few weeks according to an email the students received.
The school, which opened in 1959, was initially called Northwest High but was soon changed to honor Dixie Martin Hollins, the first superintendent of Pinellas County Schools. He championed the rights of Black students and his estate still contributes to the school’s music program.
In the 1970s, the school was embroiled in civil unrest because of integration and a school ban on the use of the confederate flag. For years, locals referred to the school as Dixie and the athletic teams as the Dixie Rebels.
The petition, which has more than 250 signatures, is asking to get rid of the first name as “a way to still honor the man the school is named after while still cutting off the deep-rooted hatred attached to the symbols the school currently uses.”
In the past few years, the school has eliminated any symbolism tied to the confederacy, including the removal of the colonel character as a mascot.
Logos have also been redesigned, including one now used on the schools website.
But the mascot name remains.
The students want a different one, something “with less controversial tones (that) would help push the school in the right direction. All of this is an attempt to portray our school in the best light possible and to acknowledge the current activist movements.”