A seventeen-year-old high school student named Robert Heft designed the 50-star American flag. In 1958 Heft was a student at Lancaster High School creating a project for a history class. He set out to design a
50-star flag for his history class anticipating the addition of Alaska and Hawaii into the Union. He designed the flag utilizing his mother’s sewing machine and a hot iron to add a new blue canton and 100 hand-cut stars (50 on each side) to the field of an old 48-star flag. Heft toiled for twelve hours to complete his history project.
Little did he know his teacher would offer him the ultimate challenge that would make history. The next day Heft submitted his flag for history class and his teacher, Stanly Pratt asked where he got his crystal ball. Pratt was referencing the use of fifty stars instead of forty-eight. Of course, Heft explained he believed Hawaii and Alaska would be added to the Union. In response, Pratt made Heft an offer if Congress accepted the flag then his grade would be raised.
Because Heft accepted the challenge, he made history alongside President Eisenhower on July 4, 1960 when his flag became the first 50-star flag raised in Washington. For more information, check out the article, “The 50-Star American Flag.”