The votes are in for Howell High’s new mascot after Confederacy flap
The Howell High School graduate who designed the winning "Rebels" mascot after an online vote among four competing designs said she can see both sides of the argument over changing the logo.
The school, which is part of the Freehold Regional High School District, dumped the cartoonish Confederate mascot in favor of an "H" on recent uniforms and athletic fields. The change was made over "concerns over the former image of Howell High School’s mascot," according to a written statement from the district.
Four submissions from students, alumni and staff were put up for a vote on the school's website, which ended Wednesday night. While the high school's original team name and mascot were inspired by the Confederacy when the school was founded as Southern Freehold Regional, the theme for the new mascot was "American Revolutionary War Rebel."
The designs all bear a resemblance to the logo of the NFL's New England Patriots.
The winner was Howell High School Class of 2012 alumna Kylie Burst, according to the school's website. The design shows the "rebel" looking down wearing a tricorn hat with the "H."
"I played sports my whole life and I think of logos as showing some kind of aggression or intimidation almost so I looked at it from a sports standpoint with the looking down," Burst, who played field hockey for the Rebels and at Roger Williams College in Rhode Island, told New Jersey 101.5.
"There's a shadow cast on the face. I didn't want a gender associated but I wanted it to be a strong example of what Howell is," Burst said.
Burst said she entered her design after seeing a Facebook post. She said she was inspired by the Patriots logo
Burst is not aware of a prize associated with being the winning design, which is fine with her.
"I get the bragging rights, which is super cool. Other than that, it was a submission that I felt good about myself so I thought why not not take a chance and do it," Burst said
The district has not said why it is retaining the Rebel name, which has been deemed offensive to some because of its connection to the Confederacy and slavery.
Burst said she is aware of the emotions in the debate over the logo and can see both sides of the argument.
"I think 'rebel' can stand for a whole bunch of different things. Obviously, when you accompany it with the Confederate mascot that we had in the past, it's not going to be the most well-received thing nowadays," Burst said. "But I think ditching that Confederate side and keeping the word rebel I think it's a strong mascot as long as you think of it differently and that's what I was hoping to portray with my logo."
An online petition was posted asking the all forms of the name be dropped while another petition seeks to keep the Rebel name.
Elsewhere in the state, the Pascack Valley Regional High School District Board of Education voted to change the names of their two high school teams, the Pascack Hill Cowboys and Pascack Valley Indians to names yet to be determined.
The mayors of the towns served by in the district said in a joint statement that the change "does nothing to further the cause that the vast majority believe in. In fact, in some ways, they cloud the issue and will limit our ability to bring about the transformation so many of us hope to see."
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