Save the Harding Academy General

Save the Harding Academy General

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Thomas Kelley started this petition to Harding Academy Family and Alumni

The Harding Academy mascot, the Generals, is under attack and was never given a chance by Dave Skeen, the current headmaster, and the Board of Trustees for a fair fight. Please sign this petition to save the General.

My name is Trey Kelley. I am a member of the Class of 1982 at Harding Academy. I was an athlete there, playing basketball and baseball, as a mighty General. I was the recipient of the Mr. Hustle Award and the MVP for the basketball team. Additionally, I was valedictorian and Harding Academy used snippets from my graduation speech for a few years in their informational pamphlets. In 2006, I was recognized as a Distinguished Alumni and in 2009, I was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. My brother was in the class of 1985 and was also an accomplished student-athlete in his own right. My grandmother taught at Harding Academy and served on the board in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Harding Academy is important to our family, which is why I am appalled at the current move by Dave Skeen and the Board of Trustees.

Many of you received an email from Dave Skeen on Friday, 28 August 2020, with the message that he, at the request of some of the faculty and staff, and the board had decided unilaterally to change the Harding Academy mascot from the General to something which would be decided later. The reasons given were the General represented war and slavery and a mascot representing more inclusiveness was desired. As a retired Army officer, I took offense to this email and its message and to the Machiavellian tactics of Harding Academy's administration. Generals today are some of our nation's treasures and are extremely inclusive and embody loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. What better mascot could you possibly want for a school whose seal has "Excellentia" on it?

Though four alumni are currently serving on the board, the alumni community at large and the Harding Academy family at large were not consulted. No surveys were taken, nor were there any sensing sessions other than communications from the faculty and staff. How many in that group asked for the change is unclear. Any debate behind the secretive meetings discussing this issue is not available. 

When pressed about why the General mascot was offensive but not the Harding name (after William Giles Harding - owner of the Belle Meade Plantation and slave owner), Dave Skeen equivocates and provides illogical responses. 

In summary, please consider signing this petition and contacting the current Harding Academy administration or board members to make your voice heard that the Harding Academy Generals should remain the mascot and a clear branding around the way the General should look and the great traits and characteristics the General embodies should be a part of informing the Harding Academy family: students, faculty, staff, board, and alumni.

Sign this petition and let's save the General! 

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At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!