Roncalli High School – Nickname Change Announcement

Members of the Roncalli leadership team speak to the issue of the school’s nickname and the formation of a task force to identify options for a new nickname.

(7-22-20)  A task force will find a new nickname for Roncalli High School in Indianapolis after concerns from the community its current mascot (Rebels) could be misunderstood.

Interim President Fr. Robert Robeson

“One of the most visible signs of our identity in the past has been the nickname of the school, the Roncalli Rebels. In the past, we have clearly articulated that this name is derived from the revolutionary spirit of Angelo Roncalli St. John the XXIII.”

According to Roncalli Principal Chuck Weisenbach 

“a nickname that better reflects the character of our namesake, a nickname that will better honor Angelo Roncalli’s life and ministry by reflecting the Catholic faith.”

From the Roncalli website –

Why the “Rebels”?

When the issue of a nickname or mascot was discussed and the name rebels was brought forward the students enthusiastically embraced it and thus was born the name and nickname of this new Catholic high school, the Roncalli Rebels. Participants in those discussions have confirmed unequivocally through the years that at no time was the segregationist past or Confederate legacy mentioned in the discussion of the nickname, Rebels.

At some point in the school’s history there started to appear as a part of the school’s landscape, a mascot, Ronnie Rebel, who was dressed in a Confederate military uniform. Shortly thereafter, the confederate flag also started to appear in different school settings. This was terribly unfortunate as both the mascot and flag misrepresented the school and the historical significance of its name and nickname.

In the early 1990’s, the school’s administration began to address the issue on two fronts; one being the absolute exclusion of the confederate soldier and confederate flag from anything related to Roncalli; the second being a concerted effort to educate the school and larger community on the historical significance of the name, Roncalli Rebels.

Changing ‘offensive’ mascots since the George Floyd incident in Minnesota has been happening at a fast pace, lots of discussions have taken place across the US on why it is necessary.