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(HURLEY, Va.) — The front doors of Hurley High School in small-town Hurley, VA are proudly emblazoned with the blue stripes of the Confederate Flag, despite a renewed uproar recently over the use of the rebel banner following the racially charged massacre at a Charleston, SC church.

“It’s been with us since the beginning of our high school. It’s just what the people are used to seeing. It’s about our heritage and culture,” said Pam Dotson, principal of Hurley High School.

Public schools in Charleston, SC have recently banned students from displaying the Confederate flag on school grounds following June’s mass shooting allegedly by Dylann Roof, who openly posed with the flag in several photos.

However, Dotson says she has received only one complaint and that the response from parents and the community has been largely positive. She does not anticipate that conflict will come from continuing to display the flag as a symbol of the school.

“I think it’s just about censorship and politics,” Dotson said. “We are who we are here, and it’s nothing to do with hatred or racism.”

Chris Hardin, a graduate of Hurley High School, painted a logo of the Confederate flag waving from the blade of a sword on the Hurley Rebels football field. He sports the rebel flag on his car and is in the process of tattooing a picture of it on his friend’s arm. To him, the mascot is representative of courage and toughness.

Despite the national controversy, Dotson says Hurley High School has no plans to remove the flag from their mascot.

“Our school is a small school – a very small group, close community – and our community in no way sees the display of our Confederate flag as a symbol of hatred,” Dotson said. “It’s just a symbol to us more of bravery and pride in our school and pride in our community.”

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