Olentangy Local Schools’ districtwide rebranding initiative rolls on, and during Wednesday’s OLSD Board of Education meeting, Director of Communications Krista Davis provided an update on where efforts stand with the district’s middle schools.
Meetings have finished with the middle school brand committees, which were formed last spring to develop each school’s unique brand. As a result of the process, each school has a refined mascot logo, unique branding elements, exterior signage, and logo and mascot guidelines.
“These committees worked virtually throughout the entire time of their existence and were creative about bringing in student feedback through that process,” Davis told the board. “We were excited that we were able to create a special identity for each school with our goal to result in increased school pride and excitement.”
She added, “We’ve done the elementary (schools) where there was nothing, and now we’re at the middle school level where we kept the mascot name that was in existence but changed the imagery where we removed some Native American imagery. And we also focused on inclusivity, gender and race.”
Two middle schools in the district — the Liberty Middle School Warriors and Shanahan Middle School Scouts — previously utilized Native American imagery in association with their nicknames. Under the rebranding, Liberty has now shifted to a knight and shield as its primary and secondary logos, while Shanahan’s logos now consist of a German Shepard and a compass as the primary and secondary images.
Last week, each school revealed its new mascot, as well as the creed created by the committees to go along with the mascot. Davis said the creeds “really highlighted everything they shared about their culture and their community, and what makes them uniquely each of the schools.”
While support for the rebranding initiatives has generally been positive throughout the district, one commenter during the public comments portion of the meeting took the opportunity to call on the district to do more. A submitted comment from Galena residents Ashley and Ceylon Wise, which was read during Wednesday’s meeting, called the district’s efforts with the elementary schools “well done.” However, the comment called the rebranding of the middle and high schools “more pressing and exponentially more consequential” due to the use of Native American names and mascots at those levels.
“While we applaud the efforts to address these issues, in our opinion, and in the opinion of many throughout our community, retaining the name while merely changing the imagery does not remedy the problem,” the letter stated.
The letter went on to cite various Native American organizations and their outspokenness on the use of Native American nicknames in schools and professional sports franchises. Specifically, the letter cited the continued use of “Braves” as the nickname of Olentangy High School as offensive to them when some Native Americans have denounced the name as a label unwillingly placed upon them to perpetuate stereotypes.