Vestavia Hills High School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Vestavia Hills High School
Vestavia Hills, AL
United States
Type Public
Established 1970
Principal Tyler Burgess
Faculty 165
Grades 912
Enrollment 1902
Color(s) Red and blue          
Mascot Rebels
Newspaper The Vedette
Yearbook "The Reveille"
Vestavia Hills High School.

Vestavia Hills High School (VHHS), founded in 1970, is a public high school in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham. Part of the Vestavia Hills City Schools system, VHHS has been the target of national media attention for its refusal to change its mascot from the "rebel man," a plantation owner chosen in the 1970s when VHHS was founded as a 'white flight' school.[1][2][3]

The student enrollment for the 2013–2014 academic year is estimated to be just over 1900 students. The current school principal is Tyler Burgess, a (former) principal at nearby Pizitz Middle School. The assistant principals are Dexter LeBlanc, Philip Holley, Charles Bruce, and Melissa Smith. VHHS has more than 20 National Board-Certified teachers.

Construction of 2 new concession stands for the VHHS Band program has been completed. As of 2014-2015 school year, a new addition of 24 classrooms and additional parking have been completed. Twenty-two classrooms were added in 2009. In 2007-2008, VHHS completed a long-awaited face-lift, with the front of the school, its office suite, and lobby. In 2003–2004, the "E" wing was completed. Interactive classrooms with state-of-the-art technology were installed all over the school in summer 2008. VHHS is part of the Vestavia Hills City Schools and uses the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiative.

Technology used at this school includes a school-wide BYOD program, Promethean boards in all classrooms, document cameras, Apple laptops and desktops, with Microsoft Windows machines being mostly obsolete.

Mascot Controversy[edit]

The VHHS mascot, known as Rebel Man, represents a plantation owner.[4] The school "picked a Confederate Flag-waving Civil War Rebel because it saw itself as rebellious" in the context of the establishment of segregation academies in the 1970s, which enabled white American children to self-segregate from black children, who remained in public schools.[1]

In the wake of the Charleston church shooting in June 2015, The Birmingham News highlighted this racially charged history and called for a removal of the mascot.[1] Meanwhile, the school superintendent called it 'a "point of contention for some members" of the community.'[5] By early July 2015, some Vestavia Hills residents wrote an op ed in The Birminghan News calling on the school board to change its name.[6] By the middle of July 2015, comedian John Oliver made fun of the claim that it was "heritage, not hate" on national television.[4] He argued, "Your logo is a plantation owner. [...] And saying that the image of a plantation owner is not used in a racist way is a bit like arguing the Hitachi magic wand is only used as a back massager."[4]

Vestavia Hills has decided to keep the Rebel name and remove the mascot but initiate a rebranding process.


Vestavia has 150 courses available on yearly basis. Vestavia offers a number of AP courses (World History, U.S. History, European History, English Language & Lit., Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Psychology, Physics 1, Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, French, Latin, Spanish, German, Government, Economics,and Studio Art). Vestavia also offers Honors courses for all core subjects to all grades. Dual Enrollment classes are available for both English and Math.

The statistics for this school can be found at


The school employs 140 teachers (for a student : teacher ratio of 13:1). The average Vestavia Hills teacher has 17 years of experience, with 81% of the faculty holding Master's or more advanced degrees. More than 20 of the school's teachers have achieved "National Board Certification" with several more on track to be certified.

We the People sponsor, Amy Maddox, was named the Daughters of the American Revolution Teacher of the Year in Summer 2008 and traveled to Washington, D.C. for her awards ceremony. Counselor Christine Rohling was named Alabama School Counselor of the Year in November 2007.

Outstanding teaching staff include Kay Tipton, chair of the math department from 1989 to her retirement in 2007, who won Cornell University's Outstanding High School Educator Award, the Golden Apple Teacher of the Year Award, and received the White House Commission of Presidential Scholars Distinguished Teacher Award three times.

Former Debate Coach Marilee Dukes was inducted to the National Forensics League Hall of Fame in 2004. [1] She is also in the Tournament of Champions Coaches Hall of Fame. Dukes coached at Alabama’s Vestavia Hills High School for over twenty years and made the program one of the powerhouses of the 1990s. Her students have claimed the championships and top speaker awards at every major national tournament during her tenure, and she has coached debaters to finals at the Tournament of Champions an unprecedented seven times. She is one of ten coaches honored by having a debate round in the Barkley Forum for High Schools at Emory University named after her. The Vestavia Hills Novice Tournament is also named after Marilee Dukes.[2].

Former Band Director Ted Galloway not only conducted performing groups of consistently high quality, but also brought many legendary jazz musicians, such as Urbie Green to the school for performances. The Vestavia Band program also sent 2 students to conservatories to study music from the class of 2012 including its first student to The Juilliard School.


VHHS is a two-time recipient of the national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education. In September 2009, Vestavia was named one of 39 high schools in the nation to receive this special status that year. The award is a follow up to its Blue Ribbon Status achievement in 1991.

In 2013, Vestavia Hills High School had the highest graduation rate of any school in Alabama (98 percent). Vestavia High School has students from 17 different nationalities and all faculty's children may attend the school regardless of where they live.

Vestavia's math team has dominated national competition for more than a decade. The team has earned 15 first-place and 3 second-place finishes in 18 National Mu Alpha Theta Convention competitions. Most recently, Vestavia finished third at the 2015 Mu Alpha Theta National Convention in Colorado.

The debate team, winners of seven national championships, has the distinction of being the first team in history to win both the Lincoln-Douglas Debate and the Policy Debate in the National Forensic League championships. [3] Vestavia is also one of two schools to have two national champions in Lincoln-Douglas debate Tournament of Champions (debate).

In 2008, Vestavia won the national Economics Challenge, and its We the People team has won national acclaim since 2005, most recently winning second in the nation at both the 2009 and 2010 National Finals in Washington, DC. [4]

Vestavia's newspaper, The Vedette, received the All-Alabama award for the 2005-2006 school year and has won state-level honors every year since then. The All-Alabama award, sponsored by the Alabama Scholastic Press Association is the highest award that can be given to a high school newspaper in Alabama. Its literary and visual arts magazine, "The Muse," won the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Silver Crown award (sponsored by Columbia University) for the 2008-2009 school year, one of the highest national awards; as well as several National Scholastic Press Association awards in the past.

The students of Vestavia Hills beat their goal of $250k and raised $264,275.56 for the Relay for Life charity in 2015. This is run entirely by students and placed Vestavia High School in the top 3 high schools in America for raising money for this charity. Each year students also donate over 23,000 canned goods for local food banks. The Habitat for Humanity Club, currently the largest club at Vestavia Hills High School, has financed and built 10 homes for needy people.

Music Department[edit]

Vestavia has a long-standing tradition of a quality music department. Both the band and choir have won numerous state and regional awards, and consistently place best-in-class in competition. Vestavia's jazz program, in particular, has been notable since its founding by bandleader Ted Galloway. The bands are currently under the direction of Jerell Horton, assisted by Heather Palmer. The band marched in the New Year's Day Parade in London on January 1, 2010.

The Vestavia Wind Ensemble is known nationally for its high standards and challenging repertoire excelled through goals set by director Jerell Horton. The ensemble has participated in events such as the MFA National Concert Festival, Alabama Honor Band, and Alabama Music Educator's Conference.

Vestavia's choirs are currently under the direction of Megan Rudolph.


Vestavia Hills High School fields varsity teams in football, cheerleading, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, golf, tennis, softball, swimming, volleyball, cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field.

VHHS has won AHSAA state championships in the following sports:[7]

  • Baseball (1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000)
  • Boys' Basketball (1992, 2009)
  • Girls' Basketball (1987)
  • Boys' Cross Country (1987, 2012)
  • Girls' Cross Country (1981)
  • Football (1980, 1998)
  • Boys' Golf (1991, 1994)
  • Girls' Golf (1973, 1974)
  • Girls' Indoor Track (2005)
  • Boys' Soccer (1991, 1995, 2013, 2014)
  • Girls' Soccer (2001, 2005, 2007)
  • Boys' Tennis (1995, 2011, 2012)
  • Girls' Tennis (1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
  • Boys' Outdoor Track & Field (2008)
  • Wrestling (1976, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009)

VHHS has also won two national championships:

  • Baseball (1998)
  • Cheerleading (2010)

Buddy Anderson Field (at Thompson Reynolds Stadium) is home of the Vestavia Hills Rebels football team. The field is named after current head coach Buddy Anderson. Anderson has been coaching at Vestavia since 1972, and has remained the head coach since 1978.


Notable alumni of Vestavia Hills High School include:


  • Barnett Wright. (November 30, 2000) "Vestavia Board lets Rebels, flag, mascot stay." The Birmingham News.

External links[edit]