Fate Of Missing Memorabilia Hinges On Student Voice

Carsyn Lincks, Social Media Editor

Class photos now reside in boxes in the activity center storage area. (Carsyn Lincks)

   Memorabilia lined the main hall before construction on the 2023 Vision campus improvements began in 2019. Photos of every graduating class, trophy cases filled with awards, and the athletic Hall of Fame photos represented past achievements by alumni. 

   “They have all been taken down, they are all stored so they are away for safekeeping. One of the things Dr. Miller wanted to focus on was the students we have now. She is gone, and I am wrestling with what we want to do.  I would love to have some student voice on this too,” principal Jeff Prewitt said.

   The first week in October, Mav Media released a poll on Instagram asking for student input. 227 people participated in a survey which asked, “Should Southside put the old memorabilia back on the wall?” Ninety percent indicated “yes” memorabilia should be back on display. 

   “I think it’s just a piece of history that we should keep. If it’s an award that we won or if it’s a person that has stood out in our community why not keep it and show it off,” senior Desmond Lopez-Fulbright said.  

   Unaware of the storage of the memorabilia, alumni voiced concern on maintaining a sense of tradition on campus after recent class reunions.

   “Our history can teach us so much. The stories behind these photos can inspire future generations to stay curious and connected to the school’s legacy – but you must be able to see it to begin to try to understand it,” former 2004 Basketball Homecoming Queen Kim Wallace Carlson said.

   Artifacts such as the Lori Weiler memorial display exhibited memorabilia of people who had a lasting impact on the school.

   “These photos should be displayed along with all other memorabilia because they all contribute to the history of the school and provide a map of where Southside High School came from and is today. The mascot may have changed, however the individuals that came before and those that are still to come are what makes Southside the outstanding institution of learning, athletics is part of the community of Ft. Smith,” 2018 Hall of Fame athlete Wendy Newman said.

   Display cases containing photos of Homecoming Queens lined the hallway outside the principal’s office prior to construction. Framed prom tickets and invitations also hung throughout the former main office area.

   “I was elected Basketball Homecoming Queen in spring 2004. It was an incredible honor, especially as a student of color with no prior homecoming court experience. I was likely the first senior maid to have her mother, a Vietnamese refugee, as an escort for the ceremony, evolving many traditions and expectations for what homecoming at Southside can look like,” Carlson said.

   Banners reflecting the wins of State Championships, the Alma Mater, and flags of opponents where artifacts alumni looked forward to seeing as they entered the old gym off the main hall.

   “I was giving a tour a couple of weeks ago to the graduating class of 2001 and they were even asking about that. It’s their twenty year class reunion and they commented on the fact that when they were students they used to love to go see all those class photos and Senior Council president pictures and that sort of stuff,” Prewitt said.

   Senior Class President in 1981 John Bradford reflected on a school visit with his son. Bradford’s senior photo hung in the main hall alongside the 1981 class photo.

   “I was able to share that part of my high school experience with my son the first time he visited the campus years ago. I realize that access to the campus has changed over time (to meet current updated security measures), but maybe the school could consider moving the displays from the main hall to the new freshman wing.  That way the incoming students would be exposed to more of the history of Southside as they begin charting their course,” Bradford said.

   While several trophies exist in the lobby of the new area, most remain stored in the upper level of the activity center. Damage to several framed items, such as the student photography showcased in the old cafeteria, eliminate the return of these historical items.

   “History is important. School pride is important. Being proud of your school is important. Those pictures tie the past to the present. There have been many changes to Southside, some bad and some good, However it is important for the school to build loyalty and pride in their school and home town. The passion for this school was started long ago, and must remain important to the current students.  Tomorrow is history, today is a new page that will soon be history, so make it count,” Athlete Hall of Fame and coach Kevin Tiffee said.

   Current students voiced their concerns about the artifacts returning to the walls due to the reputation of the former Rebel mascot. 

   “The old memorabilia should not be put back up on the walls in Southside. The Rebel was a Confederate icon in the Civil War and the fact that that is what represented our school for so long is not a part of Southside history that I am particularly proud of. “Rebels” was a nickname for the Confederate soldiers who had fought to keep slavery in America. Johnny Reb was the name of our mascot and after a little bit of research, I have found that he was a ‘symbolic representation of the ordinary Confederate soldier.’ Having Rebels as our mascot did not correctly portray what Southside was about. In my opinion, old memorabilia should not go back up and our mascot was rightfully changed,” junior Isabelle Low said.

   According to Newman, trophies represent more than championships to the former athletes. Teammates and coaches that helped earn spots on the Hall of Fame and earn the champion trophies, factor in as well.

   “I had the privilege of being a part of an athletic program that was very successful, winning multiple titles and championships. However, it was the relationships with my teammates that were more important than trophies and titles. The coaches (many who are also in the Hall of Fame) that I was fortunate to have played under impacted my life long after graduation and helped guide me professionally into a successful 30 year teaching/coaching profession of my own. Lessons I learned as a student/athlete at SHS I am able to pass on to my own students/athletes still to this day,” Newman said.

   No decision regarding memorabilia has been announced at press time.



Display Memorabilia Prominently

By Gabby Woodie, Photo Editor

   Southside is my home. Since early elementary, the campus has played an active role in my life. In 3rd grade I attended the majorette clinic. Before the performances, my family and I walked through the school.  The hallways were full of decor, trophy cases and a huge statue. The spirit of the school resonated to all who walked in. It gave me chills knowing this was my school. 

   Mom attended this school. Her journalism awards hang in the same room I work in everyday. This memorabilia means something to me and others in this school and community. Never will I think these artifacts make the halls look crowded or messy. To me the memorabilia should always be there. 

   Dad got the job on campus when I was in 6th grade. Three years later as a freshman, I joined varsity tennis. After practice I stayed after school with him. Checking his mailbox in the office, I walked past the homecoming queens’ pictures in the trophy case outside the principal’s office and admired the framed prom tickets on the walls. I loved seeing the different reactions and smiles from the queens and all the other maids. Every image was different yet captured the joy in each moment. My friend just won homecoming queen.  Her picture deserves to sit with those other queens. She has done so much for this school and has made my senior year spectacular. 

   Being Mav Media photo editor has been one of the most exciting things of my high school career. Taking pictures of the different aspects of campus life is rewarding. I love seeing my classmates in their atmosphere and being involved with other students. 

Yearbooks chronicle the differences and the similarities, the spirit and cheer, the pride and love for the school. Records of traditions and how they started add to the school’s legacy as does the memorabilia that used to hang in the halls and fill the trophy cases. 

   Being an athlete teaches me how influential it is to be on a team at this school. The coaches and athletes have left an impact on my life. Their hard work deserves to be honored and admired by all. State titles, conference championships, tournament wins, no matter the mascot and new traditions represent the same school. 

   The administration should keep the memorabilia on display to honor the alumni and current students whose achievements make Southside the best school in the state. The titles, recognitions, and awards mean nothing if we can’t use it to challenge ourselves to strive to be better than the school has ever been. These reminders allow the opportunity to look back and understand that looking forward the Class of ‘22 will represent alongside past alumni. This history isn’t just about honoring sports and homecoming queens, it displays memorials of people that had an impact on this school. Framed people of those no longer with us add to the legacy.  Renewing the main hall to recapture school spirit keeps the legacy intact for future generations. 



Keep Focus On Current Students

By Ellie Bunnell, Yearbook Editor

   For over 52 years the Rebel mascot represented Southside High School. While the mascot changed to the Maverick in 2015, Rebel memorabilia remained around the school until the renovation began in 2019. Many of the Rebel artifacts were removed with the mascot change; however, photos of the football team holding a confederate flag or trophies with the Rebel name remained in the hallway. 

   Renovations completed in August; however, memorabilia never returned to its original place. Many of the current student body members forgot about all the clutter that once flooded the hallways. The importance of preserving the school’s history should not interfere with the strides made to improve the controversial past.

   The seniors are the only current students at Southside that observed all the memorabilia in its original place. After spending millions of dollars on an extensive renovation, placing all of the memorabilia back into the main hall would only distract from the beautiful architecture of the building. The focus of the administration needs to remain on all the current students rather than cherishing alumni.

   Instead of placing all of the trophies and photos of class presidents back in the main hallway, a memorial area needs to be created to house all the memorabilia. The best vision features the new sports arena and side hallways containing all the memorabilia. Housing sports championship trophies, the new arena allows previous athletes to reminisce. Displaying class president frames, side hallways welcome alumni to celebrate their time at Southside. Returning to the school, alumni need to admire their accomplishments in a designated space, but away from the center of campus and current students.

   Celebrating the past of this great school should no longer interject with the present students’ accomplishments or any further future achievements. Struggling to create a new school identity following the mascot change, current students reinvented Southside’s school spirit. Memorabilia of current students should be added alongside the trophies and photos from the past. However, memorabilia needs to be observed outside of the main hallway.