Godfrey-Lee receives $98,000 grant from Native American Heritage Fund

Money earmarked for changing mascot from Rebels to Legends

Ninth graders are working in teams to develop concepts for the new Legends mascot and logo in visual art teacher Jesse VanderBand’s class

A $98,000 grant from the Native American Heritage Fund will help support the rebranding of the Godrey-Lee mascot from Rebels to Legends, following a recent check ceremony held at the FireKeepers Casino-Hotel in Battle Creek.

In addition, the district received a $10,000 gift from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and individual donations totaling another $10,000, to bring the total to $120,000 towards a goal of $200,000.

“The support of our community through the transition has been critical to the success of the project,” said Superintendent Kevin Polston. “Financial contributions will ensure that operating expenses will be spent in the classroom to support our students.

Godfrey-Lee has received $120,000 in funds to help replace their mascot change from Rebels to Legends. This is the old Lee High School mascot, Rebbie

“The donations will offset costs for a new logo design, athletic and performing arts uniforms, signage, murals, the electronic footprint of the district, and more.” 

The Native American Heritage Fund’s goal is to promote positive relationships between public and private K-12 schools, colleges, universities, local units of government and Michigan’s federally recognized Native American Tribes, according to its website. It further aims to “improve curricula and educational resources related to Michigan Indian history,” and to “replace or revise mascots and imagery that may be deemed offensive to Native Americans or may convey inaccurate representations of Native American culture and values.”

After years of debate, and an exploration of the history of the word Rebels, the Godfrey-Lee school board unanimously approved the new name of Legends this summer.

Jesse VanderBand, visual art teacher at Lee Middle and High School, said her ninth graders are working in teams to develop concepts for the new Legends mascot and logo.

“They are learning about what it is like to work as a graphic designer and being part of a design team,” said VanderBand, whose students’ designs will eventually get voted on by the school board. “The design that gets the final vote will then go to a professional graphic designer to be rendered as a final design.”

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation, established in 1922, creates partnerships to overcome inequities in West Michigan and support racial, social and economic justice.

“We are committed to providing opportunity, prosperity and belonging for everyone who calls West Michigan home,” said Diana Sieger, president of the Community Foundation. “A new Godfrey-Lee mascot will unify the school community and help students shift their focus to using their talents and creativity to fuel our shared future.”

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Cris Greer
For more than three decades, Cris Greer has been a wordsmith, working in the fields of journalism, advertising and marketing. Much of the past decade, he helped grow the MLive Statewide High School Sports desk as a supervisor, editor and reporter, which included eight newspapers in Michigan and mlive.com. Cris also was a freelancer for The Grand Rapids Press, The Advance and On the Town magazine for many years. A good portion of his early career was spent building and managing the copywriting team in the advertising department at Meijer, Inc., where he oversaw copywriting for print ads, mailers, brochures, signage, several dozen in-house magazines per year and much more. Read Cris's full bio or email Cris.

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