Olentangy Schools mascots are ‘bright spot’ for 2020

JIM FISCHER
Glen Oak Elementary School assistant principal Anne-Marie Rhodes, with Ricky the goat, and principal Stephen Peters, with Lucy the goat, pose outside the school Sept. 23. The Goats became the new mascot of Glen Oak; the real goats belong to art teacher Jenna Magyar.

Olentangy’s elementary schools welcomed squirrels, bees, penguins and students back – both in-person and virtually – for the start of the school year.

The district recently announced the results of a monthslong branding project, during which teams of faculty, staff and parents – most with student input – at each of its 15 elementary schools and the preschool program created new logos and mascots.

Krista Davis, the district’s chief communications officer, said some elementary schools had adopted informal branding through the years, but the initiative was intended to create consistency districtwide, bound by some common styles, typefaces and colors while allowing each school to create its own particular identity.

“The intent was for each building to have its own identity and not have it necessarily tied to a middle school or high school mascot or identity,” Davis said. 

“Even for the reveals, each school came up with their own way of sharing their new mascots and logos that spoke to each school’s personality.”

“For us, it became a bright spot we could focus on amid the confusion of how this school year was going to start,” said Arrowhead Elementary School principal Bridget McMillen, whose school nickname and mascot is now the Hawks.

“The anticipation of the reveal and then our use of (a costumed mascot) in events like our drive-through clap-in and in our back-to-school videos provided an energy and excitement that allowed our community to celebrate a common identity in this uncommon time.”

Glen Oak Elementary School, which now uses the Goats as its mascot, opted to employ actual goats in some back-to-school activities.

Glen Oak Elementary first grader Kailyn Byrd visits with Lucy the goat on Sept. 23. Glen Oak's new mascot is a goat.

“We have a couple staff members who keep goats and who have already been visiting the school for one event or another throughout the year,” principal Stephen Peters said. “We had a few ideas, but I think we kind of knew early on. It just felt right.”

Peters said the school revealed the mascot live on the school’s Instagram account, leveraging both technology and the new identity to “get kids excited about the new school year.”

He said it doesn’t end there. School staff members are busy incorporating the new mascot into established lessons on student expectations and school culture.

“When we talk about expectations and behaviors, that will be a little reframed around the idea that young goats are kids, and that (Glen Oak students) are GOES kids or GOES Goats,” he said.

“We have a lot of good work on culture and identity at Arrowhead that’s already been done, but the Hawk is something we’ll use as a visual element to bring all of that together,” McMillen said. 

Davis, whose office, along with Columbus-based Cult Marketing, spearheaded the branding effort, said the project “absolutely went as we’d hoped.”

In a fast-growing district that regularly faces redistricting as new buildings are opened, the goal was to connect students, families and neighborhoods to a culture specific to each building. 

Davis said she hopes, via the creation of licensed merchandise, to create a greater connection to each school building and community.

The district is working with K12 Licensing to handle practical matters, such as insurance, royalties collection, marketing and legal functions, while the district retains all control over the images. 

A chart shows the new mascots for each Olentangy elementary school.

A similar process is underway at the district’s five middle schools, as well, Davis said. 

She hopes to reveal those results later in the fall and then start at the high schools, with a goal of wrapping up the project no later than the end of the current school year.

Middle schools and high schools will retain their existing names and mascots, Davis said. 

The effort, she said, will include updating and creating added consistency of images as well as allowing for that same process of connecting those images to school culture.

The new school mascots are: the Alum Creek Cardinals; the Arrowhead Hawks; the Cheshire Cubs; the Freedom Trail Falcons; the Glen Oak Goats; the Heritage Huskies; the Indian Springs Squirrels; the Johnnycake Corners Jackets; the Liberty Tree Larks; the Oak Creek Owls; the Olentangy Meadows Mustangs; the Olentangy Preschool Penguins; the Scioto Ridge Rams; the Tyler Run Tigers; the Walnut Creek Bees; and the Wyandot Run Wildcats.