Lee band suspends the playing of Dixie at games

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MIDLAND -- A long-standing tradition at Midland Lee High School is being temporarily suspended.

The band will no longer be playing Dixie -- the schools beloved fight song.

It's a song that represents community, teamwork, and tradition for the Midland Lee Rebels, so when members of the band were told Wednesday night would be their last time playing Dixie, emotions ran high.

"There was a couple of kids crying, I know a lot of the freshman and stuff didn't like care so much, but a lot of the upper classman were frustrated and crying," said a member of the band who asked to remain anonymous.

This Midland Lee senior is one of several students who don't agree with the schools decision to temporarily suspend the song.

"It's our history and I think it should stay the same,” said the senior. “History is history, I mean it’s not like we're hurting anyone."

The decision wasn't an easy one to make, but Principal Stan VanHoozer says he and the district don't want to take any chances when it comes to student safety, especially given the drama surrounding the national debate over confederate imagery.

"We want our kids to be safe when they travel out of town and playing this in other areas,” VanHoozer said. “We have a lot of traditions here at Lee, but the name on our building, or the song we play, really doesn't identify who we are inside the building and the good things that go on here."

Many parents we spoke with say they understand the safety aspect, but can't help but feel the district is blowing this controversy out of proportion.

"Why give into what’s going on, you know, it's just giving into what they want us to do, letting go of our tradition to please other people,” said Eilene Smith, a parent of one of the band members. “I don't think it’s right for the kids to get the backlash of that."

Principal VanHoozer says this decision is just temporary, meaning they could allow the band to continue playing Dixie in the future.

As for changing the schools name, the district says that is still not on their agenda.