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.

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

In this file photo, marchers make their way from Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett on Feb. 26, 2017. Muslim refugees’ admissions into the U.S. have declined by 85 percent since the Trump administration came into power in 2017, according to the International Rescue Committee. Sound Publishing file photo
Report: Fewer refugees settling in U.S. and Washington state

Admissions are on pace to only reach around one-fifth of their limit in 2019.

A high tide at Raymond’s Willapa Landing Park in Grays Harbor County, Washington. Sound Publishing file photo
On the West Coast, Washington is most prone to sea level rise damage

Report by the Center for Climate Integrity shows multibillion-dollar cost of battling back the sea.

Photo Provided by Naomi Parkman Sansome Facebook Page
Buckle up for another smoky summer

Wildfires in Washington will likely roar back this year and into the future.

What’s next for Washington’s 2045 green energy goal?

The Legislature set the goal, but how does the state actually get there?

Tasting room proposal could redefine alcohol production in King County

Pilot program would benefit wineries, breweries and distilleries. Several farmers are concerned.

Susan’s quest for ‘justice’ and the civil legal system dilemma

While citizens have the right to an attorney in criminal cases, they’re not afforded the same rights in civil litigation.

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn sent a letter to the FBI asking for them to help investigate Allan Thomas (pictured), who is under investigation for stealing more than $400,000 of public funds and skirting election laws in an Enumclaw drainage district. Screenshot from King 5 report
King County Council requests report on special districts in wake of fraud allegations

Small, local special districts will face more scrutiny following Enumclaw drainage district case.

The Marquee on Meeker Apartments, 2030 W. Meeker St. in Kent, will feature 492 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail. The first phase of 288 apartments is expected to be completed in early 2020. Developers are targeting people in their 20s and 30s to rent their high-end, urban-style apartments. Steve Hunter/staff photo
Housing study pokes holes in conventional wisdom

High construction and land costs will incentivize developers to build luxury units.

I’ll miss Doug Baldwin the player, but I’ll miss the man more

I witnessed ‘Contemplative Doug,’ not ‘Angry Doug,’ in my time covering the Seahawks.

File photo
Eviction reform passed by state Legislature

Tenant protections included longer notices and more judicial discretion.

Courtesy photo
Possible measles exposure reported in King County

The person who was infected took a Kenmore Air Flight on April 28.

Overdose deaths continue to rise locally and nationally

This may not be the same opioid epidemic anymore.