Sullivan County community members petition for revote on name and mascot for new middle school

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BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Some community members are petitioning for a revote after school leaders approved a new name and mascot for the middle school that will be created from Sullivan South High School.

The petition calls to change the newly-named Sullivan Heights Middle School with a mascot of Huskies, to Sullivan South Middle School, with a mascot of Raiders.

Petition organizer, Ria Rigney, said she feels like a name and mascot change could bring the community together.

“We just really felt that the Sullivan South name and the raiders from Sullivan North should be combined,” Rigney said. “To combine these communities together.”

Julia Wallace, who has children in Sullivan County Schools, said she is okay with the name change.

“I didn’t like the controversy that came with Sullivan South and the Rebels,” Wallace said. “I was glad that they were going to do a fresh start, you know, for the middle school, and let the children kind of have a voice in what they want their school to be a representation of.” 

Dr. David Cox, Director of Sullivan County Schools, said the naming process was thorough.

“It was a highly democratic process,” Cox said. “The committee gave very good consideration to all of the names and suggestions, but in the end paired that down.” 

The names, mascots, and colors were recommended to the school board by student representatives from a committee that consisted of parents, teachers, and students. The recommendations were based on the results of surveys.

Cox said in order for another name change to be considered, a school board member who voted for the new name change has to ask for reconsideration.

“The school board ultimately does name schools, but it would require somebody who voted on the prevailing side of an issue to request reconsideration,” Cox said.

Rigney is trying to make that happen.

“If we can get one of those members to agree to bring it back up, then we can have a vote,” Rigney said. “At that point, we still just have to have the majority for us to be able to get a vote again.”

Rigney said that if the name kept South in it, less money would be spent on re-branding.

“South had already started you know getting these scoreboards, and bleachers and stuff and just putting South on it,” Rigney said. “By getting that vote if it were to flip we would just save a lot of money where we could put that money somewhere else for the kids.”

As of Monday afternoon, the petition had 485 signatures.

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