Sunday, May 12, 2019

How Lee HS Students Chose the Original "Rebel Emblem"

In the early days, they didn't call it a "mascot," but rather an emblem. And while we know from the 10-minute video produced this past winter that the emblem made its first public appearance in the 1943 Lee High School Echo yearbook (Wyoming, Michigan), it was actually decided on several years prior.

According to accounts in several editions of the Ariel student newspaper, the Varsity Club met on April 18, 1939 to consider about a dozen different designs for the "Rebel Emblem."  During the meeting, they selected two entries by students Norman Alyea and Fred Praasterink. The club then appointed Willard Brandel and Merle Verberg to take the two designs to the Art Craft Novelty Company to be drawn by a professional artist.

A week later, the Varsity Club placed the artist's conceptions of the two designs in the hallway display case at Lee, likely to invite feedback from other students before a final selection was to be made. The club planned a special meeting at the end of the week to vote on the selection. Unfortunately, there were no more reports in the Ariel nor were there any graphic illustrations but it's presumed that the Rebel emblem highlighting the 1943 yearbook is what the club voted to approve, and likely what morphed into a sew-on patch that began showing up on letter sweaters and some athletic uniforms. This version of the Rebel emblem lasted into the 1960s only to be phased out and replaced by the Confederate battle flag.

There is mention in the October 5, 1939 Ariel that the senior class rings would include a "special design of the Lee High Rebel." The Echo yearbook published the previous spring included a photo of a girl's hand sporting a class ring with what appears to be that same design, although it's too small and grainy to be certain.

In all of this process, it appears from the published evidence that only students were involved in the decision-making, however the Varsity Club did have a faculty advisor.

1943 Echo Yearbook Rebel Emblem
1946 Echo Yearbook Cover
1946 Lee High School Track Team
LHS Varsity Letter and Rebel Emblem patch

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