Dowagiac Middle School students to create city flag designs

Published 11:33 am Monday, March 21, 2022

DOWAGIAC — Local middle school art students are ready to show their civic pride.

Students in Andrea Hatter’s art classes at Dowagiac Middle School will participate in a recently-announced competition to design an official flag for the city of Dowagiac. After voting to participate in the competition, the students were visited Thursday by Eileen Crouse, who shared with them her passion for flags, what makes a good flag, and some important aspects of the city’s history.

Crouse, who brought the idea for a flag to the city and sits on the subcommittee overseeing the project, asked the students if they had ever thought about how the city formed, why their families chose Dowagiac and how did they get here. She also gave a brief history lesson, from the Dowagiac Creek to the city’s industrial roots of Heddon Lures and Round Oak Stove Company.

She also informed the students about the city’s diverse history, mentioning Michigan’s first African American police Chief George Grady, and the Orphan Train. She encouraged the students to speak to their families about their history.

“I think I made it really relatable and understandable why these things were important,” said Crouse, a Chicago native who has lived in Dowagiac for about 25 years.

When Crouse was finished with her presentation, she said the students were already churning with questions and ideas. Several commented they had no idea Dowagiac was so special and important.

“It really got them thinking,” Crouse said. “They were completely attentive. Many of them could not even wait for me to get through the presentation before the hands were up – clarifying, asking questions. … I went in there hopeful, and they really exceeded my expectations.”

While Crouse said she is excited to see the students’ designs, she also is encouraged by seeing young people respond so positively to a creative civic project.

“Just seeing them develop this sort of appreciation was really gratifying,” she said. “I’ve always been a real fan of young people. I think there is a tendency for adults to go ‘kids these days …’ and focus on their negative. I’ve always seen that good side of them.”

Each student in Hatter’s classes will be creating their design and then deciding if they want to submit it into the official competition. Submissions for the contest are due by 5 p.m. on April 11.