"Unique" and "united" are the key words for Olentangy Schools as leaders work to create logos and mascots for every elementary school and preschool in the district.

The results of the work will be announced at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

Krista Davis, the district's chief communications officer, said some elementary schools had adopted informal branding through the years, but the initiative is intended to create consistency districtwide.

"The intent was that each school have its own unique mascot and logo while feeling a part of something bigger by keeping a similar look and feel across all of the schools," she said.

Davis and the district's communications office worked with Cult Marketing, a Columbus-based agency, and teams of faculty, administrators and parents at each of the district's elementary schools on the project, which began in 2019 and concluded in March.

"It's always exciting when there's a project that brings together all those elements," Scioto Ridge Elementary School principal Melany Ondrus said. "For us, we were starting mostly from scratch, getting to make something from the ground up."

Ondrus, who has been with the district since 2004, said she anticipates the process to prove beneficial for each building in the rapidly growing district.

"Each building already has a bit of a feel of a community center, but this will enhance that sense of identity and reinforce the idea of team or family at each building," she said.

"I was interested in the process of developing a culture for our school," Freedom Trail Elementary School parent Erica Fouss said. "Our staff and PTO have done a good job of creating an idea of what we stand for at Freedom Trail, and I think this builds on what we have already been doing."

Ondrus said the real benefit will come in the next step as mascots and logos are announced.

"How we leverage the mascot in the building and the community, how we weave that messaging in with the rest of the values we hold will be important," she said.

"With the spring and summer we've had, it will be something exciting for the kids to look forward to as we get back to school."

"It will be fun, something to rally around amid the very serious stressors," Fouss said.

After the mascots and logos are rolled out at the elementary level, the ongoing project next will revisit logos and mascots at the district's middle schools and high schools, Davis said.

She said the work is not directly tied to the Native American imagery used in several schools.

She said the plan is not to change any mascot names but instead will involve updating graphics and imagery for consistency as well as eliminating the appearance of having "borrowed" any trademarked imagery over the years.

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