The Juanita High School “Rebels” mascot got the boot after Lake Washington School District administrators decided to dump what many viewed as an offensive homage to the Confederacy on July 13.
The mascot has been a source of contention for years, as student groups had pushed unsuccessfully to get the mascot changed. During a July 13 Lake Washington School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Jon Holmen removed the “Rebels” as Juanita High School’s mascot. School administration will now begin selecting a new mascot.
A press release from the school district said Holmen began reviewing the mascot and met with students, parents and administrators. Along with the removal of the mascot, the district updated its policy on choosing and removing school mascots. This included granting the superintendent the right to remove a school name or mascot, and requiring school names and mascots to be aligned with district values.
Previously, only current students could vote to change or retain a mascot.
“Juanita High School students, staff, parents, alumni and community have the opportunity to write the next chapter of Juanita High School,” Holmen said in a press release. “I understand there are stakeholders that do not agree with this decision.”
The debate over the mascot has been happening for years. In coverage from 2018, dueling petitions were circulating to both remove and retain the mascot. Those who supported keeping the mascot said “Rebels” referenced the “revolutionary” approach to education the school took, including short class periods.
One petition to retain the mascot from that time said “there is no white supremacy in Juanita High surrounding areas.”
But others disagreed. A Juanita High School logo from 1990 featured the “stars and bars” behind the school’s logo. The “stars and bars” is associated with the Confederacy. The 1990 logo was changed after a Black staff member raised concerns about it.
Another picture included in the 1986 yearbook shows students holding a Confederate flag with the title “In 1986, Juanita High School is riding a rebel wave.”
In another instance, during a mid-1990s varsity football game, Juanita students painted their faces with the “stars and bars” and chanted racist names and slurs. The assistant student body president later apologized for the incident.