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District 206 to stick with traditional Cardinal logo

The new look of the Cardinal head (left) that District 206 experimented changing to with the opening of the new Alexandria Area High School this coming fall has been scrapped after public criticism of the look. The district will stick with a look that is very similar to the traditional Cardinal head (right).

School District 206 is listening to the community and sticking with the traditional look of the Alexandria Cardinal mascot after hearing criticism about a new logo that was introduced on the Echo Press website last Thursday.

“It’s too drastic of a change and the feedback is people don’t like it,” District 206 Superintendent Rick Lahn said by phone on Monday morning. “We didn’t get any positive feedback on that, and we got a lot of negative feedback. We’re listening.”

Lahn said the new logo was one that the district was experimenting with but had not been approved by the school board. However, they were serious enough about the new look that they already introduced it on some team apparel.

“It was just part of a branding guide that we had been working on as a school district and had not been run by the board for formal approval,” Lahn said. “Based on the information that we received over the weekend when the Cardinal was shown to the public, it’s clear to us that people value the tradition that the previous Cardinal represents and as a district, we want to honor that tradition.”

The district decided on the look that was introduced last week after meeting with multiple local stakeholders. Plans to revamp the mascot for the opening of the new Alexandria Area High School started taking shape after the school name was approved by the school board on December 17, 2012.

Members of the district started to meet with stakeholders, ranging from local apparel companies to members of the community, shortly after that to get an idea of the look they wanted to accomplish.

“What came out of that dialog consistently is we want a Cardinal that looks competitive and determined but not a Cardinal that looked aggressive because that doesn’t speak to our community values,” District 206 Communications Coordinator Jill Johnson said last Friday.

The new logo immediately drew criticism from many in the public. A series of two stories on the Echo Press website generated more than 100 comments on the Echo Press Facebook page. The vast majority of those were opposed to the new look and wanted the school to stick with the traditional mascot.

“Logos and mascots represent tradition for alums and they really are a symbol of what the community wants in a mascot and in a logo,” Lahn said. “The fact that people are weighing in on it does not surprise me. We’re listening to that; we’re hearing that. We’re not going to be adopting that logo as an official logo.”

Lahn said the primary reason the district experimented with making a change in the first place was to have one consistent look that was unique to Alexandria and could serve as the brand for the new Alexandria Area High School. The traditional Cardinal head used by Alexandria is similar to the logos used by high schools such as Willmar and Coon Rapids, as well as the Arizona Cardinals professional football team.

Through the years, there have been multiple versions of the Cardinal used throughout the Alexandria community that were similar but never exactly the same. The district wants to create one consistent look that everyone can use to serve as the brand for AAHS.

That’s still the plan. Lahn said they will continue working on a logo that the district can trademark that will look very similar to the traditional Cardinal head that Alexandria has known for years. Lahn said the district hopes to have that logo ready to present to the school board by the May 19 meeting.

“We feel like we need to stay with the more traditional Cardinal look and we’ll be working on that branding,” Lahn said. “We care what our community thinks. We care what our alums think, and we want something that they feel good about and that they can support.”

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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