ARAB, Ala. -- Arab High School will be coming up with a new fight song, because the current song, Dixie, will no longer be played at football games.
Arab City Schools Superintendent John Mullins said discussions regarding the possibility of discontinuing the use of Dixie as the fight song began months ago, with key leaders in the system and members of the Board of Education. "I take full responsibility for the decision," Mullins said, "It certainly wasn't the new band director's decision, it wasn't the new principal's decision, it wasn't the new football coach's decision. They all were involved in the dialogs."
The Arab High School Band has played Dixie after touchdowns for decades. It's predominately played during football season. Mullins said it was never officially board approved as the fight song. Students initially found out about the change during band camp practice.
"With the best interest of all of our students in mind and without any external pressure, I made the administrative decision that we will no longer play Dixie. 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," Mullins said.
"I understand this was not a popular decision, but I hope that people can accept the rational for which we're making it, and I hope that the support for our band, for our football team, for our students, and our school district will continue to be as strong as it has been in the past."
Some residents we talked to were split on their opinions. Some didn't agree with the decision. Others did. Some felt tradition is important. There is an online petition to keep Dixie as the fight song.
Arab High School will kick off its football season with a new stadium, new principal, new coach, and new band director. "We just felt like it was the right thing to do for all of our students, and this was the right time to do it," Mullins said, of the decision to remove Dixie.
Mullins said the change aligns with a goal to create and maintain climates in which all students feel welcomed and valued. “We still are not a community that has great ethnic diversity, but over the last ten years our ethnic diversity has increased,” Mullins added.
Mullins said there have been only a handful of complaints about Dixie over the years locally, and from some opposing teams. "We also found out there have been several times in the history of our school district in the past, where we visited other venues and we chose not to play Dixie based on the demographics of the opponents," Mullins explained.
The students and staff at Arab High School will be able to nominate and vote on a new fight song after this football season. In the meantime, in its place, the band will play a different song usually heard at games.