Two alumni of Loudoun County High School in Leesburg are asking the School Board, and the greater community, to support a change of their alma mater’s mascot.
Deidre Dillon and A.J. Jelonek, from the classes of 2009 and 2010, respectively, started an online petition calling for the removal of Raiders as the school mascot. According to the petition, the mascot is in homage to the Mosby’s Rangers, the 43rd Battalion of the Virginia Calvary for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and was chosen as the mascot by the majority-white student body after the high school was desegregated in 1954. Until 1980, the school logo depicted a mounted cavalry man holding a Confederate battle flag.
“Like Confederate monuments, choosing the Raiders as the mascot was a result of the Lost Cause Movement to commemorate the South and rewrite history. A mascot gives a community an identity, and glorifies its chosen entity. As long as Loudoun County High School’s mascot is known as “Mosby’s Raiders” or simply “The Raiders,” no matter what positive traits come with the association, the school will be promoting slavery, the Confederacy, racism, and white supremacy. These are values we believe future generations of students should not uphold,” the petition read.
As of Tuesday, the petition had garnered more than 1,000 signatures, and both Dillon and Jelonek were expected to speak in support of the change at Tuesday’s School Board meeting. Jelonek said the two had felt uncomfortable with the mascot for some time, but the current environment of protests against racial injustice and police brutality—some of which have called for the removal of Confederate monuments—further pushed them to publicly call for the change.
“We will be advocating for changing the mascot, as well as calling for the current student body of LCHS to make the final decision. The students enrolled at LCHS are the current owners of the school and its spirit. They are the community that this decision affects the most. Therefore, we believe the student body needs to voice their own opinion and vote whether or not they think it should be changed,” Jelonek wrote on the petition.