In 1958, Robert G. Heft was a high school student at Lancaster High School. Stanley Pratt, the teacher on his American History class told them to design a flag that can be used once Hawaii and Alaska became official states of the United States of America.

Instead of designing a completely different flag, the 17 year old took his inspiration from the work of Betsy Ross, the seamstress who was handpicked by George Washington to design the flag during the Revolutionary War.

50 stars and 13 stripes

Burning with inspiration, the young Heft arranged fifty white stars in alternating horizontal rows on a blue background to signify the 50 states (Alaska and Hawaii included). To represent the original thirteen colonies, he alternated seven red and six white stripes. The three colors – red, white and blue, apparently embodied the virtues of courage, purity, and justice, respectively.

Heft shared that he used a 48-star flag his parents received as a gift for his project. He dissected each of the stars and sewed them back together. It took him over 12 hours to complete his design.

Heft’s design as the national flag

Given the amount of effort and thought he put in on his flag design, Heft was expecting a high grade. Unfortunately, Pratt believed his project lacked originality, so he only gave Heft a B-. To appease Heft, Pratt made a deal that he would raise his grade if Heft’s design would be adopted as the national flag of the U.S.

Heft did not waste time and immediately sought the help of Ohio Congressman Walter Moeller for this purpose. On July 4, 1960, Heft’s design was officially adopted as the 27th official flag of the United States.

As to Pratt who promised to give Heft an A if he can achieve the almost-impossible feat, the teacher apparently kept his word and gave Heft the long overdue “A”.