Whitehall school board members decided to stick with a more-traditional look for their new logo, unanimously approving the seal last week as part of an effort to update the image of the school district.
The board also approved a new tagline: "Achieving together."
Gone is the former logo that depicted one-room schoolhouse; it has been replaced with the new seal featuring the letters WCS -- short for Whitehall City Schools -- along with the district's mascot, the ram.
Board members did not appear to be particularly enthused by the new logo, despite their unanimous approval. Board member Joy Bivens was not present for the vote.
Over the past three months, the district has been working with Creative Spot, a full-service marketing agency, on the new brand concept. Located in downtown Columbus, Creative Spot is the same company that helped the city of Whitehall in 2012 with its new logo and tagline, "Opportunity is here."
District Superintendent Brian Hamler said he felt it was imperative the board move ahead with the approval of the contract, pushing for that approval in April in order to get started on the rebranding campaign in a timely manner.
But last week, Hamler said the district would put the brakes on the rollout if the board was not pleased with Creative Spot's results.
Blythe Wood, vice president of the school board, voiced concerns last week about the sample size used in the company's research stage. Don Nixon, principal/account executive for Creative Spot, said around 50 interviews were conducted over a three-week period with students, alumni, teachers, parents, city officials and school board members.
"I'm struggling with 50 as a representative sample," said Wood. Board member Mike Adkins agreed.
About 400 invitations to participate in an online survey were mailed to Whitehall parents whose children do not attend Whitehall City Schools, along with prize incentives to be the first to reply. Only four responded.
Nixon said he felt comfortable with the pool of interviewees, pointing out that many responded in a similar manner, giving Creative Spot an accurate vision of the district, he said.
After requesting to view all the logos presented to the district's administration, including 18 that had been eliminated, board members settled on the WCS seal with some minor modifications.
In addition to WCS and a picture of a ram, the new logo displays the words diversity, pride and opportunity within the perimeter -- three words that came up often during Creative Spot's research. It also features 14 rays symbolizing all grade levels represented in Whitehall -- including preschool and kindergarten -- and two different tones to the ram symbolizing the district's diversity.
Incorporating the ram was important to the students, said Dixon.
Hamler agreed, saying the mascot needs to be seen more across the board.
"Diversity is such a strong asset in our school district, but we also wanted to convey the message that here in our district, we're all Rams. We're all the same."
Board member Leo Knob-lauch said he did not like the word opportunity but was overruled.
Nixon highlighted key messages that recurred during the interviews, including community, support, diversity, pride, technology, opportunities, friendliness and new facilities.
In the coming weeks, Creative Spot will help to craft the district's new mission and vision statements, graphic standards manual and designs for letterhead, business cards and newsletter templates.
The new logo and tagline will be officially unveiled on the district's float during Whitehall's Fourth of July parade.