Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ypsilanti Courier: The History of Ypsilanti High School’s Colors

Have you ever wondered why the YHS colors are purple and gold? Well, today's Courier will let you in on it! My article will be online soon, but till then here's the text of my story--hope you enjoy it!

The History of Ypsilanti High School’s Colors

With school back in session, a new group of freshmen joins the ranks of the Ypsi High scholars and athletes privileged to wear the purple and gold.

But a century ago, YHS had no school colors at all. Or, you could say they had 8. Or was it 5?

In 1901, each of the 4 class levels was allowed to choose 2 class colors. The students kept their class colors as they advanced from freshmen to seniors. In 1901, the freshman class of ’04, with 50 students, chose pale blue and white. The 32 sophomores had chosen red and white, and the 32 juniors had claimed green and white. The senior class colors were violet and white, and the 30 seniors had a special privilege—they were the only class permitted to choose a class flower.

They chose the violet.

Choosing colors gave each rank of students a special identity with and pride in their group. But by the time 1922 rolled around, things were getting a bit too kaleidoscopic.

“The High School colors have always been a mystery,” says an article in the 1921-22 YHS yearbook, the “Ypsi-Dixit.” “Our football team wore maroon and white jerseys, our basket ball team had red and blue suits, our baseball uniforms were brown and white. In the lunch room was a Y.H.S. banner of red and green felt. On another school banner the colors were maroon and white. Such confusion as this did not permit us to be very loyal to the school, because we couldn’t wear our school colors, or wax enthused over them when they were displayed, for we knew not what they were.”

The article continued, “This problem was called to the attention of the students by the Sem [school newspaper], and was discussed in Student Council. It was put up to a vote of the students, and at first it looked as though maroon and white would be sanctioned, but as so many schools have these colors, and as the [varsity] letter issued to athletes was gold, the Athletic Council recommended that purple and gold be chosen.”

“The Seniors had already voted for maroon and white, but immediately changed their vote to purple and gold, and the other classes did the same. Purple and gold was officially established as the school colors for Ypsi High.”

A few days later at a basketball pep rally, the students held a mock funeral, complete with coffin, for the doomed maroon and white. The school’s Mechanical Drawing and Sewing classes made a big banner showing a golden letter “Y” on a purple background. The tradition had begun.

Today, Ypsilanti high school athletes wear the same golden varsity letter as their brother and sister athletes of 1922, where the proud tradition of purple and gold began in the Athletic Department 87 years ago.

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