First Branch is a recently unified school district inside of White River Supervisory Union that has a campus in Chelsea serving the middle school and pre-K students and a campus in Tunbridge which serves students in kindergarten through 4th grade. Earlier this year, the youth-adult team took part in a process to craft their new mission and vision statements. Next, the team partnered with the school’s art teacher to create a design process for each art class in grades K-8 to revisit the school’s mission and vision statements, then brainstorm colors, words, images and symbols for a new mascot and logo. The team also learned about the history of mascots, and how they can evolve and change over time. 

The youth-adult team created parameters for the new visual designs, for instance; whatever image they use cannot be copyrighted, and the creators are required to explain how they are connected to the district’s identity, mission, and vision. There have already been over 90 unique submissions, and each one has been uploaded to a slideshow. Community members, students and school staff will then vote on the chosen mascot and logo through Google forms, and a graphic designer will make the selected designs a reality! 

At the last retreat of the year, the team will review the data from the design challenge and celebrate whichever mascot and logo design received the most votes. They will also take time to honor the previous mascot, and talk about how to move forward with their new shared identity. The team will also reflect on what they’ve learned going through this design process, where youth were asked to give design and take part in the process for input, rather than undergo a top-down process with adults making the final decision. 

Program Director Jackie Verley notes that one of the challenges of the process has been to balance honoring the past mascots and logos, as many community members are very connected to them, while also  creating space for change and new ideas. The team strived to meet at the intersection of respecting people’s memories and school legacy, while also bringing momentum forward. 

We cannot wait to see the new visual designs that the First Branch community chooses!