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DGF mascot could be re-vamped in coming months

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 5:46 PM CDT
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DILWORTH, M.N. (Valley News Live) - A small Minnesota town is up in arms tonight after an online petition surfaced in hopes of stripping the school district of it’s controversial mascot claiming it’s a nod to confederate soldiers.

Despite being a 1989 Dilworth ‘Locomotive’ grad, Leah Skjerven was also a Rebel, as both track and wrestling athletes from Dilworth and the Glyndon-Felton ‘Buffalos’ combined in the mid 80s.

“We needed to come up with a combined team name and from what I recall, we just thought ‘running Rebels,’ for a track team, it sounded cool. We didn’t have any reference to any confederate soldier or anything like that,” Skjerven said.

Since then, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Superintendent Bryan Thygeson says concerns over the mascot have popped up from time to time.

“I think it’s been more lately just with everything going on in the United States with a lot of issues on projections and racism,” Thygeson said.

More specifically, Thygeson says people find more issue with the actual mascot versus the ‘Rebel’ name.

“There are some people who take a look at that and say, ‘That is very symbolic of the confederacy,’” Thygeson said.

“If the basis of the mascot is a nod to the confederacy, I think it’s better to just move on and pick something a little less offensive or controversial,” Adam Burnside said, a ‘Buffalo’ grad, and later a teacher at DGF.

A former social studies teacher, Burnside says the rebels aren’t a group we should want to glorify.

“It’s people that wanted to separate from the country and fight a war to remain separate and continue the institution of slavery,” Burnside said.

Adding just because the mascot was selected innocently, doesn’t mean it still shouldn’t be changed.

“We grow and we advance and I think the selection of mascots is one of those things,” Burnside said.

“They’re very proud of the name and they love it. The kids are kind of heartbroken about it all being changed,” Skjerven said.

And with the district’s current upgrades and projects, Thygeson says a mascot change isn’t out of the question.

“We’re trying to be proactive with it. Talk to our students, give our students an opportunity to do some artwork, look at other designs,” he said.

However, Thygeson assures, it’s not happening today.

“This is not a done deal either way, but we do want to get a pulse of the community and see if it is time for a change,” he said.

DGF schools says the timeline for the mascot change wouldn’t come until this summer or fall, and state parents and students will have ample time to voice their opinions on the direction the district goes.

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