Education

Robert Smalls International Academy mascot, logo OK'd by Beaufort County school board

Beaufort County School District
Robert Smalls International Academy will soon have a new logo and mascot that supporters say remains true to the school's past.

The Beaufort County school board approved a dark-green logo Tuesday, the school's name encircling a 'G' for Generals flanked by two white stars. The board also passed a concept for a mascot that includes a period-accurate uniform.

The 7-3 vote came only after much confusion over what the board was voting on and whether the school had offered enough input. The board's student services committee drafted the recommendations with help from the Robert Smalls Association, the alumni organization of the original Robert Smalls School.

In approving the mascot with an appropriate uniform for Smalls, an escaped slave and general who became a Civil War hero, the board said the school and alumni association would determine the mascot's final look.

"That has to go back to somebody for approval," board member Laura Bush said. "It can't just be the alumni, it needs to be the school itself."

The committee and alumni agreed that any student -- black or white -- could serve as the mascot for pep rallies and football games.

The votes helped put to rest controversy over a logo the school used on its website and welcome mat of a colonial-era man with a ponytail. Members of the Robert Smalls Association asked for a more historically accurate depiction.

Evva Anderson, co-chairwoman of the board's student services committee, said she had hoped the school would offer more input on the mascot's look.

Board member Joseph Dunkle said he wasn't sure why the motion was up for action if the school and principal had not offered input.

Student services committee member Bill Payne said the recommendations were clear to him and that requests for further input were stall tactics.

"It is a little bit disconcerting to keep putting the alumni association off," Payne said during the meeting. "And we need to make a decision so we can move on.

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