RACHEL BELLE

Kirkland’s Juanita High School is retiring the ‘Rebels’ mascot

Jul 14, 2020, 5:32 PM
rebels...
Kirkland's Juanita High School mascot will be retired.

After much debate among students, parents, staff and alumni, Lake Washington School District Superintendent Dr. Jon Holmen announced that Kirkland’s Juanita High School will be getting a new mascot.

“I’ve determined that the Rebel mascot does not meet the criteria that was set forth on administrative policy,” Holmen said.

Is ‘Rebels’ racist? Heated debate over Kirkland’s Juanita High School mascot

When Juanita High School opened in 1971, the Rebel mascot was chosen to represent rebelliousness, and doing things a new way. But some time in the 1980s, the school’s logo was changed, taking on many features of the Confederate flag. That logo was painted on school walls and printed in the yearbook.

“Rebel” has several meanings, and one of them is a name for Confederate soldiers that fought to maintain slavery during the Civil War. In the early 1990s, all signs of the Confederacy were removed from the logo, but it’s still a part of the school’s history.

“From my review of the situation, the Juanita High School mascot was put in place with good intentions,” said Superintendent Holmen, speaking at the school board meeting Monday. “I have no reason to believe that the term ‘Rebel,’ in its inception at Juanita High School, was to honor or glorify slavery, or to be a reflection of the Confederacy or the Confederate values. I also know that the term ‘Rebel’ does have direct linkages to the Confederacy.”

“When I reviewed the research around the term ‘Rebel,’ it continued to point back each time to the Confederacy,” he added. “It links to terms such as ‘the south,’ referencing the region that fought for slave holding. The idea of the stars and bars or the Confederate flag. There are unfortunate historical references or visualizations at Juanita High School to the Confederacy, connecting the school to the Confederacy.”

Holmen said many students, parents, and staff complained that they have had to explain the meaning behind the mascot.

“To assure people that it isn’t what they think it might be, or that it isn’t connected to the Confederacy. That’s a challenge in this situation. In hearing from a number of new students, particularly students who moved to the Juanita area from the south, it was actually a shocking experience for them to move into a community and see the mascot at the local high school be a Rebel,” he said. “Since they had gone through school, learning, and education around the Confederacy started very young, so for them it was almost abrupt when they came and saw the mascot at Juanita High School was a Rebel.”

Two years ago, after a petition to remove the mascot circulated at Juanita High School, the majority of students voted to keep the mascot. On Monday, Holmen announced a few policy changes. He said letting students vote on the mascot proved to be divisive, and from now on it will be an administrative decision. The superintendent can now remove a mascot if it’s not in line with the district’s values.

A new mascot has yet to be selected.

“There will be a naming committee comprised of parents, students, staff, school administration. Students get to submit options. Then it comes back to myself and a team,” Holmen said. “We have the final say over which options the students will get to vote on. We evaluate less about, ‘Do we like any of them?,’ and more that it’s in alignment with our policies and values. Then those names that are approved will go onto a ballot and each student will have the opportunity to vote one time.”

Holmen said a mascot should unite a student body and not be divisive, as the Rebels mascot has been. He said every student should feel safe at school and no one should be offended by a mascot.

Listen to Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast, “Your Last Meal,” featuring celebrities like Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Rainn Wilson, and Greta Gerwig. Follow @yourlastmealpodcast on Instagram!

  • listen to rachel belleTune in to KIRO Radio on weekdays to hear Rachel Belle.
Who is Rachel Belle?

Your Last Meal

Rachel Belle

supply chain...
Rachel Belle

Start your holiday shopping now or risk supply chain issues

Now is the time to start holiday gift shopping because if you don't buy soon, supply chain issues may make it tough to get what you want later.
20 days ago
Dick's...
Rachel Belle

How does Dick’s Drive-In pay workers $19 an hour with a menu completely under $5?

Dick's Drive-In recently raised its base pay, as did Taco Time, which is now offering employees $20 an hour at select locations. How do they keep prices low and pay high?
21 days ago
botox...
Rachel Belle

Don’t like how you look on Zoom? Many young Americans are now getting Botox

More people are turning to Botox to get rid of lines and wrinkles, but is it safe? How does one age naturally in a youth obsessed country? Experts weigh in.
27 days ago
certified wildlife habitat...
Rachel Belle

Turn your backyard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat

The National Wildlife Federation will help you make your yard a habitable home for bees, birds, bugs and critters. And they'll give you an official sign!
1 month ago
Emily Cherkin and Ben Gitenstein, pictured months after 9/11. (Photo courtesy of Emily Cherkin)...
Rachel Belle

‘You either got married or broke up’: 20 years later, a Seattle couple on falling in love in NYC in the wake of 9/11

On Sept. 11, 2001, Seattle's Emily Cherkin and Ben Gitenstein were 22 years old and separately taking the subway into Manhattan when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers. This is their story.
2 months ago
dirty work...
Rachel Belle

New book ‘Dirty Work’ reveals psychological toll of working unsavory jobs nobody wants

A new book by Eyal Press called "Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America" takes a deeper look at jobs no one wants to do.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Kirkland’s Juanita High School is retiring the ‘Rebels’ mascot