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.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

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

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

t
Sound Transit Board approves Julie Timm as new CEO at $375,000 per year

She replaces Peter Rogoff who left in May after board voted to replace him

t
Statewide task force to tackle organized retail crime rings

Group brings law enforcement, prosecutors, retailers together to combat growing problem

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

A semiautomatic handgun with a safety cable lock that prevents loading ammunition. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Large-capacity ammo magazine sales ban starts soon in Washington

Starting July 1, a 10-round capacity becomes the limit for sales. Meanwhile, “there is a rush on magazine purchasing.”

t
Oak Harbor man arrested on $1 million bail for alleged hate crime

Yelled threat at Whidbey Island woman; reportedly posted online comments about killing gay people

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Sound Publishing archives
Cannabis DUI challenge rejected by state Supreme Court

Everett man argued the law must be tossed because legal limit for THC is not supported by science.

Tsr
No more stolen sisters: How WA is responding to missing and murdered Indigenous people

Across the state, 126 Indigenous people remain missing, with 31 having gone missing in King County.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 3): Behind the decision to charge a police officer with murder | King County Local Dive

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.