Journal & Topics: Glenbrook South, Maine East High School Students Among Finalists To Redesign Cook County’s Flag
by Tom Robb
A Glenbrook South High School student from Glenview and a Maine East High School student from Des Plaines are among six student finalists in a contest that drew 300 entries to redesign Cook County’s flag.
The six finalists are Andrew Duffy of Glenview and Glenbrook South with his design titled “I Will Banner”, Alex Tomy of Des Plaines and Maine East with his flag design titled “Harmony”, Tim Mellman, Oak Park-River Forest High School, with his design titled “New Century Flag”, Jaime Joshua Fregoso of the Ray Graham Training Center with his flag design “Freedom”, Sofia Hogue of Evanston Township High School and Ryan Bradley of Disney II Magnet High School for their design “Our Star”, and Charlye Hunt of Alan Shepard High School and Rayn White of Providence St. Mel for their design “Strides for Cook County”.
The six finalists’ flags were on display in the halls of the county building in downtown Chicago and were recognized by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle during last week’s county board meeting.
Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton (D-14th), whose district includes Glenview, is the co-chair of the flag committee and has been involved with the effort to design a new county flag since 2019. He said the winning flag could be announced by Preckwinkle as soon as next month.
Students submitted initial designs and worked with professional graphic designers to create the flag designs. Many flags feature designs incorporating green for the Cook County Forest Preserve District, blue for the river system, Lake Michigan and for police, and red for the Cook County Hospital System. Some flags also feature stars, including Duffy’s, with either six, seven, or nine points, referring to the regions of Cook County, or in one case, where a six-pointed start was used, as a nod to the city of Chicago.
While Britton did not want to take sides to influence the vote, he praised Duffy and Tomy’s flag designs praising their use of symbolic colors and sense of geography.
Duffy’s flag shows a circle of six, seven-pointed red stars along with a blue “Y” outlined with green lines on a white background.
“The blue stripes illustrate the importance of water to Cook County,” he said. “The green stripes symbolize nature and the forest preserves. The placement of the green stripes depict a riverbank like seen at the Des Plaines River Trail and North Branch Trail.”
“The red star has several important meanings. The seven points of the star represent different parts of Cook County: North, Northwest, West, Southwest, South, the City of Chicago, and the Forest Preserve District. The star brings all the points together, symbolizing our unity and a common mission. The color holds particular significance. Red has historically been the color of social change, something Cook County is no stranger to. Red is strong and bold, as are those who continue to fight for equality,” Duffy said.
White represents innovation and commerce and, Duffy said, “a blank canvas, a freshness of what is yet to come.”
“My flag is named ‘Harmony’ because it is a symbol of peace and unity. The top of the flag is blue to represent the dedicated Cook County police force, our clear blue skies, and Lake Michigan. The bottom half of the flag is colored green to represent Cook County’s forest preserves. The white line in the middle represents the 13 rivers of Cook County and doubles as a tribute to our cold winters filled with snow,” Tomy said.
The semi-circles in the inner middle are the initials of Daniel Cook, the founder of Cook County, (Cook, Daniel: C,D). The semi-circles come together to suggest the shape of a “C” for “Cook County”, Tomy continued.
He concluded, “In the middle, lies a nine-pointed star, to represent the nine regions of the Cook County Forest Preserves. The star is colored orange-red and sampled from the lettering on the current flag.”
Britton said the county’s current flag, first unfurled in 1961 after the county seal was designed, is simply the county seal with the words “Cook County” on a white background. Britton said that amounts to a “seal on a bedsheet.”
Britton said the Chicago flag is an example of what a flag should be. With no text, that flag uses four red stars to mark four of the most historical events in Chicago’s history, Fort Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933 and 1934. The two blue stripes stand for the Chicago River and Lake Michigan and the three white stripes stand for the north, south, and west sides of the city.