A song that’s been played at a local high school’s football games for several decades is now being removed from the playlist and its retirement has caused a lot of conversation. In Arab, high school students are fighting for their fight song, "Dixie," after school officials decided it was time to kick the tune. WAAY 31 spoke with those students and learned why they believe the song is worth keeping.
“I’ve been listening to ‘Dixie’ ever since I was a little kindergartener going to football games back in 2007," said Ian Davis, a twelfth grader at Arab High School. He is upset to hear one of his favorite parts of game day will soon come to an end. "I had scheduled days off at work for our football games. And the second I heard ‘Dixie’ was being retired, I was immediately a lot less excited," he said.
Davis, along with many other students, say the song is more than the lyrics. They say it's a tradition. "My mom and dad were in the band and they played it, and so it’s really hard on you when you know it didn’t really affect anybody back then, and now, all of a sudden, we’ve got to move on and it’s kind of sad," said another student and band member, Cooper Johnson.
Arab High School will welcome a lot of new things this school year, like a new football coach, a new band director, and a new stadium, which is why the superintendent says there’s no need to keep an old song. “I understand how difficult it is to change tradition, but I also understand that progress sometimes has a price," said Superintendent of Arab City Schools, John Mullins. He sent out the following statement regarding the decision to retire the song:
“With the best interest of all of our students in mind and without any external pressure, a decision has been made to discontinue the use of ‘Dixie’ as the fight song for Arab High School. While I fully understand the difficulty of changing a tradition, the song has negative connotations that contradict our school district’s core values of unity, integrity, and relationships. Furthermore, this change aligns with our goal to create and maintain climates in which all students feel welcomed and valued.”
The progress Mullins referred to is to keep from offending any student or community member by playing the song because of its negative racial connotations; but some students say that’s not the reason why they play it. They tell WAAY 31 no song will create the same kind of game-day atmosphere that ‘Dixie’ always did. “‘Dixie’ is one of a kind. It cannot be replaced," said Davis. "There’s no song out there that can replace tradition.”
A new fight song has not been chosen yet, but the superintendent says he will seek students' input when the time comes. A petition to keep the song ‘Dixie’ as the school’s fight song has been created and has gained about 500 signatures so far.
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