The current Juanita High School logo. Courtesy of Lake Washington School District

The current Juanita High School logo. Courtesy of Lake Washington School District

Juanita High students push to change ‘Rebels’ mascot

Students say the mascot glorifies the Confederacy while detractors say it honors Revolutionary War.

KIRKLAND — Students at Juanita High School will vote on whether to change their school’s mascot and logo following a petition’s approval by the school district’s board of directors.

The school is represented by the “Rebels” mascot with a logo showing an eagle sitting on a shield in front of crossed swords. Previous iterations of the logo, including the 1990 yearbook, feature a “stars and bars” style background. The design is widely associated with various iterations of the Confederate flag during the American Civil War that has been criticized as a symbol of hate and racism.

The petition was presented to the Lake Washington School District board of directors at its May 21 meeting, during which the board approved the petition. Board members noted that when the current mascot was proposed and approved by the JHS student body in 1971, it was meant to represent the “revolutionary” approach to education at the school, which included short class periods. However, board members unanimously supported the petition moving forward, saying it was the students’ right to change a mascot.

“Meanings drift with time and I don’t think that ‘Rebel’ was as associated with the Civil War at the time as it is now,” said board member Chris Carlson.

In order for a petition to make it to the board it has to garner signatures of support from more than 10 percent of a school’s student body. JHS had 1,443 students enrolled at the beginning of the current school year, placing the 170 gathered signatures well above the needed threshold.

A change.org petition was started in support of the student initiative, which has gained around 700 signatures.

“The Juanita High School (Kirkland, Washington) mascot is the ‘Rebel’ and (its) current logo is slightly modified iteration of the Confederate flag. We feel that there is no place for the memorializing of Confederate white supremacy at Juanita High School. Other schools across the nation have made the decision to change their ‘Rebel’ mascot in light of (its) historical connotations and by signing this, we believe that it is time for Juanita High School to do the same,” the petition reads. “By signing this petition, we call on Lake Washington School District, Juanita High School leadership, and the JHS PTSA to take immediate action to remove the ‘Rebels’ as the Juanita High School’s mascot and begin the process of disrupting white supremacy in the Juanita High School community.”

A counter petition was also started and has gained more than 1,000 signatures. It says that few people who attended JHS want to see the mascot changed and that “there is no white supremacy in the Juanita High surrounding areas.”

According to a document provided by the school district, a black staff member objected to the 1990 yearbook cover, which was subsequently changed. The document also stated that in the mid-1990s JHS hosted Garfield High School for a varsity football game. During that 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 event.

“Historically, pro-Confederate terms include ‘Rebel Pride,’ ‘Undefeated Rebels,’ and ‘The Rebel Yell.’ These are terms that JHS uses today,” the document reads.

Additionally, a picture included from the 1986 yearbook shows a photo of students holding a Confederate flag with the title “In 1986, Juanita High School is riding a rebel wave.”

Only current students can vote to change or retain a mascot. Following the board of directors’ approval, the petition will now go before the student body, who will vote to either change the mascot or keep it as it is.

Other schools around the country have moved to change mascots associated or perceived to be associated with the American Confederacy, which during the Civil War, fought against the Union to keep black people as slaves.

______

This story was first published in the Kirkland Reporter.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

The 1990 Juanita High School logo featuring the “stars and bars” design in the background. The design is associated with the Confederate flag and was changed in the early 1990s after JHS staff voiced objections to it. Courtesy of Lake Washington School District

The 1990 Juanita High School logo featuring the “stars and bars” design in the background. The design is associated with the Confederate flag and was changed in the early 1990s after JHS staff voiced objections to it. Courtesy of Lake Washington School District

More in Northwest

File photo
State Supreme Court strikes down $30 car-tab initiative

Justices unanimously agreed that voter-approved Initiative 976 is unconstitutional.

Courtesy Photo, King County
King County Council approves funding for affordable housing

Small increase in sales tax to support program

Hilary Franz (left) and Sue Kuehl Pederson
Wildfires, forest health are key issues in race to lead DNR

Republican Sue Kuehl Pederson is challenging incumbent Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

power grid electricity power lines blackouts PG&E (Shutterstock)
State extends moratorium on some electric, gas shutoffs

Investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in WA can’t disconnect customers through April.

Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.
State still sifting through thousands of unemployment claims

The recent Lost Wages Assistance program pumped an extra $625 million to Washington’s unemployed.

Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee (left) and Republican challenger Loren Culp during Wednesday's debate. (TVW) 20201007
Inslee, Culp joust on COVID, climate, crime in feisty debate

In their only televised match-up, the two gubernatorial candidates differed on pretty much everything.

Stock photo
Public school enrollment drops 2.8% across the state

One-third of decrease attributed to kindergarten-age children

Gov. Jay Inslee during his Oct. 6 news conference. (Screenshot)
Gov. Inslee loosens rules for bars, libraries and movie theaters

New rules come as coronavirus cases are on the rise statewide.

Cecil Lacy Jr. (Family photo)
Court: New trial in case of man who told police ‘Can’t breathe’

Cecil Lacy Jr. of Tulalip died in 2015 while in police custody.

A Sept. 10 satellite image shows smoke from U.S. wildfires blanketing the majority of the West Coast. (European Space Agency)
University of Washington professors talk climate change, U.S.-China relations

Downside for climate policy supporters is it can risk alienating moderate or right-leaning voters.

Gov. Jay Inslee. FILE/Screenshot
Inslee criticizes Trump’s comments about having COVID-19

‘More than 2,000 additional Americans have died and downplaying this danger is the best he can do?’