Calais Campbell donates $30K to help change Denver school from Rebels to Ravens

When Baltimore defensive end Calais Campbell plays in his hometown of Denver this season, his team won’t be the only Ravens in the Mile High City.

Campbell donated $30,000 to his alma mater, South High School in Denver, to help with the process of switching its nickname from the Rebels to the Ravens. The money will aid in new uniforms, gym flooring and signage throughout the school.

“It was time to make a change and what it represents,” Campbell told ESPN.

The high school’s nickname had been Rebels for nearly a century, since the school was founded in 1926. It was rooted in Civil War imagery, and the school’s mascot was a Confederate solider until 2009.

Campbell remembers how the old nickname affected him growing up. His teammates went so far as saying they were rebelling against injustice, just so they could try to embrace it when playing there 17 years ago.

“I understood what it was, and I didn’t like it then,” Campbell said. “But I didn’t have any power, or at least I didn’t realize the power to change it at the time. Now, fast forward all these years and it feels good to be part of the change.”

Last October, the school announced it was changing to the Ravens after a six-month process that included focus groups and online surveys. South principal Bobby Thomas said the nickname was chosen because “Ravens are smart, clever birds that are known to be strategic problem solvers.”

It was coincidence that it’s the same name as Campbell’s current NFL team.

“It has nothing to do with me at all,” said Campbell, who is in his second season with the Ravens. “But I think it is super cool to be a Raven now in my life and then to be able to represent the Ravens back on my childhood team.”

Campbell was told of his high school’s nickname change by his former basketball coach and immediately wanted to assist in the makeover. He said he would match whatever the school raised, which was $30,000. Campbell said he would contribute more if needed.

“This is a big deal, just to be proud of where you went to school and what it represents,” Campbell said. “To me, high school represents some of my fondest memories and best times in my life. To have that stigma attached to it, it makes you a little less proud to represent it when it’s something you can’t believe in all the way. Making a change for me is a big deal. It gives you a lot more pride in your school.”

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