Early designs for a new Howell High School logo resemble the logo of the New England Patriots football team, but the team name Rebels remains in place.

Howell High School announced earlier in June that use of the cartoonish Confederate soldier with an oversized hat and handlebar mustache was being completely eliminated and replaced with an "H." The move was made over "concerns over the former image of Howell High School’s mascot," according to a statement from the district.

An online form asking students and alumni to submit design ideas for the new Rebel mascot is currently on the school website and accepting submissions until later this week.

The school posted several designs being considered which resemble the logo used by the New England Patriots football team. Two or three submissions will join them for a final vote. The Patriots are rivals of the New York Jets in the NFL's AFC East.

The school's a capella group "Rebel Yell" is changing its name but two other choral groups, Rebelation and Rebel Clef, will keep their existing names, according to Freehold Regional School District spokeswoman Rebecca Policastro. A replacement name has not been selected.

"Howell High School will continue to be the Rebels with a new mascot selected to represent the school in the near future,"  Policastro said.  She would not say why the name is being kept while the image is being replaced.

An online petition was posted asking the all forms of the name be dropped.

"The appalling history of the Confederacy should never be glorified or displayed, especially in a public institution that prides themselves on providing educational opportunities for all," read the petition.

Another online petition seeks to keep the Rebel name.

"To change the mascot would be an attempt to erase history and nobody wants that," organizer Laura B. wrote.

According to the he National Center for Education Statistics, the 2,100 students at Howell High School are mostly white, with 3% African American enrollment.

According to the Asbury Park Press, the high school adopted the Confederate-inspired theme, complete with the "Southern Rebels" team name and the "Dixie" fight song, when it opened  as Southern Freehold Regional High School in 1964, during the height of the civil rights movement.

New England Patriots logo (AP Photo/David Banks)
Howell High School "Rebel" mascot (Shore Sports Network)
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