New Flag Design by GBS Student Selected for Cook County Competition

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GLENVIEW, IL — A student from Glenbrook South is among six finalists to design the next flag for Cook County. Andrew Duff’s design, “I Will Banner”, was chosen from nearly 300 student submissions.

Last week, the Cook County Board of Commissioners reduced the number of models to six. To celebrate and recognize more than 190 years since the founding of Cook County, the commissioners will choose a new flag which they say “is an inclusive representation of Cook County, the rich diversity of its people, the beauty of its landscape, the innovation of its institutions and the pride of its history.”

Other top designs were:

  • Freedom: Jaime Joshua Fregoso (Ray Graham Training Center)
  • Harmony: Alex Tomy (Maine East HS)
  • New Century Flag: Tim Mellman (Oak Park HS and River Forest HS)
  • Our star: Sofia Hogue (Evanston Township HS) and Ryan Bradley (Disney II Magnet HS)
  • Progress for Cook County: Charlye Hunt (Alan Shepard HS) and Rayn White (Providence St. Mel)
(Cook County Board of Commissioners)

“As we approach the Cook County Bicentennial, we look forward to presenting a flag that will represent the county for the next 200 years,” said Chairman Toni Preckwinkle. “Our gratitude goes to the young people of Cook County who put their minds and hearts into their creations. Their work will serve generations of Cook County residents to come.”

Contest organizers said Cook County, the nation’s second largest county, “deserves a modern flag that is not just a white background, with the county seal and county title”.

According to the North American Vexillological Association, a flag should be simple and easy to remember, use meaningful symbolism, have two or three basic colors, have no lettering or seals, and should be distinctive while using similarities in other flags to show connections.

“Cook County high school students responded to our challenge to design a flag for the 21st century that connects our past and our present,” said Matthew DeLeon, Cook County Historian and Flag Panel Co-Chair. “The unique role played by Cook County in the growth and development of the region, state and nation is a story that needs to be told, and I am confident that Cook County Council will select a flag which will help to do just that.”

The current flag was created in 1961 with the county seal, which features Lake Michigan as the national center of commerce and transportation, as well as symbols of government, schools, churches, fine arts, housing, business and industry that make up the County. The flag does not highlight important aspects of Cook County such as the diversity of residents, iconic history, forest preserves and many other natural resources, the hospital system, and the county’s role in criminal justice and social change.

This years-long process began with a high school student contest that generated nearly 300 flag submissions from all over the county. The reflected flag designs were representative of Cook County’s history, its varied geography, important institutions, and diverse residents. The 297 submissions were then narrowed down to the top 25 designs by an advisory committee named on the flag. The 11-member Flag Advisory Committee is made up of:

  • Matthew DeLeon, Cook County Historian and Panel Co-Chair
  • Scott Britton, Commissioner and Committee Co-Chair
  • Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya
  • Cook County Commissioner Bridget Degnen
  • Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore
  • Lisa Lee, director of the National Public Housing Museum and director of the UIC School of Art & Art History
  • Ty McCarthy, City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development Project Coordinator
  • Jonathan Meitus, WEBSTER9
  • Stephany Rimland, Professor at Harper College and Chair of the Art Department
  • Cook County Forest Preserve Superintendent Arnold Randall
  • Cook County Forest Preserve District Communications Director Carl Vogel

The designs were scored using a rubric that assessed composition, such as colors and design elements, and representation of the county’s mission, history, people, and geography, as well as the student’s description and title of their flag. All designs were reviewed without regard to mode or design details – ie, whether they were created in pencil or on a computer. Teams of students were created based on similar aesthetics or symbolic choices.

The 23 semi-finalist teams, made up of 38 students, were paired with professional design mentors who volunteered to help formalize, refine and clarify the flags. The Flag Advisory Committee then used the same rubric to score these professional designs to arrive at the final six submissions presented to the Board of Commissioners. With the advice and consent of the Board of Commissioners, the Flag Advisory Committee and the Chairman of the County Council will select the new flag for Cook County from these six final designs.

At the March 17 Council of Commissioners meeting, the Commissioners received the final six flags for the first time. In December 2019, the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to create a contest to redesign the Cook County flag. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition and subsequent process has been delayed. Commissioners will discuss the flag designs at the legislative committee hearing on the flag redesign during the April board cycle.

To learn more about the flag redesign process, the contest, the participants and the designs, visit: www.ANewFlagForCookCounty.com

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