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Refugio ISD unanimously nixes fight song

Refugio school board meeting 0114.jpg
Posted at 6:48 PM, Jan 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 09:41:03-05

The Refugio School Board voted unanimously to discontinue using "Dixie" as its fight song in a specially called meeting Tuesday night.

The vote was 7-0 when Refugio School Board President Andy Rocha asked for an accounting of board members in favor of eliminating "Dixie" as the school's official fight song.

A previous vote on the issue in December resulted in a 5-2 decision to keep the song.

"It is not our intention to do anything in these classrooms that is offensive to our students or to our community," Rocha said. "(The school board members) put in a lot of hours and a lot of time, free of charge, to make sure that our kids get the best. That's always been our goal."

Of the approximately 50 people present at the meeting, about 20 people spoke opposing the song during the meeting that lasted almost an hour. A handful spoke in support of it.

The issue has caused a divide in the Refugio community. The high school's football team has a significant number of black and Latino players, and the community was embroiled to the point where football-team parents threatened to keep their student-athletes out of playoff games in Refugio's recent Class 2A Division 1 2019 State Championship season.

Former Refugio music teacher Anita Kana Barber read names from a list she said were supporters of Dixie being the fight song, and, she said, it contained more than 150 names.

Some speaking out in favor of the keeping song Tuesday pointed out similarities to beats within other songs, such as the "The Alphabet Song" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," and suggested the song name be changed to not cause offense since the version the school plays doesn't have any words.

Some argued for keeping it as an ode to Southern heritage and tradition.

Others wanted the song kept to honor the school's tradition.

Refugio native David Kirkland refutes the song's place in the school's history, saying 'Dixie' only became the Refugio fight song in the early 1960s, when a band director made it so via a unilateral decision.

"There is not a place in our records where 'Dixie' was ever voted on for our fight song," Kirkland said. " 'Our Boys Will Shine Tonight' was the official fight song in Refugio, Texas, for the Refugio Bobcats. The song was changed in 1961 by Band Leader English, and he didn't vote on it. He changed it (himself). Now how wrong is that? That y'all have to vote to discontinue a song that was never intended to be the fight song at Refugio High? That's crazy."

School Board Secretary Jorge Jaso, who was one of two school board members to previously vote to discontinue using "Dixie" as the Bobcats' fight song, acknowledged the opportunity to right what many in the Refugio community see as a previous wrong.

"I'm hoping and praying that tonight we start a new age of understanding," Jaso said. "We can't change history, but we can more forward by changing traditions."