Controversy over school banner at Toombs County High

TOOMBS CO., GA (WTOC) - The rivalry between Toombs County High and Vidalia High gets especially bitter leading up the football game each year. But did a banner last Friday afternoon cross the line of just trash talking?

Two concerned viewers sent us a picture of the Bulldogs cheerleaders' banner warning the Vidalia Indians to get ready to leave on a "Trail of Tears part 2."

The viewer thought it was alarming students would compare a ball game to mistreatment and killing of Native Americans.

Toombs County Superintendent Richard Smith says my call was the first he'd heard of the banner or any objections.

"It was displayed at our pep rally Friday and it was probably a poor choice of words," said Smith.

Folks across the county know the rivalry extends before and after the annual game.

"It isn't' the worst thing I've heard of between the two, but it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do either," said Sharon Kight, from Lyons.

Sarah Hardeman doesn't attend either school and says she wouldn't have given the banner a second thought.

When I asked, "When was the first time you heard what the trail of tears was?"

Montgomery County High student Hardeman replied, "Right now."

Superintendent Smith said they'll pay closer attention to what's said, in this rivalry and beyond.

"We can use this as we move forward. When we say something in jest that we think are funny or whatever," said Smith.

"You have to learn from your mistakes and move forward," said Hardeman.

Superintendent Smith says it serves as a teachable moment to think about what you say or write, even in trash talk.

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