Selection expected to end the community's controversy

The solution to Del Norte High School's mascot logo conundrum has been found, and administrators say the answer came from an unlikely source.

Simon Schuster, a representative of Food Court Artwork and Universal Seating, was part of a team hired to revamp the high school's small multi-purpose room. He said he learned about Del Norte's search for a mascot logo students could rally around and submitted his own idea.

Schuster's logo was included on the high school's online survey and received more votes than any other option, said Principal Coleen Parker.

The new logo incorporates a Spartan helmet, a shield and the W script and interlocking DN logo that is currently used in blue and gold. The design is wreathed by a gold band with "Del Norte Warriors" in block letters.

"That one won hands down above everything else that was designed," Parker said. "It had 44 percent of the vote and the next closest was 22 percent. For me, it was far and away the one we liked the best."

The high school's student government has been searching for a new mascot logo since a 15-year-old controversy over its now-retired Indian head logo flared up again last summer. At School Board meetings in August and September, a parent and members of the Smith River Rancheria complained about Del Norte Youth Football's use of an Indian brave's head on its duffle bags.

Youth football representatives argued in favor of bringing the Warrior head back to the high school. When they were told that wasn't going to happen due to a School Board policy, they said they would support the high school's choice as long as the community had adequate input.

Now, after a two-part online survey and public outreach to encourage people to vote, Parker said she's glad the issue appears to be put to rest.

"We're thrilled to be able to move on and be in a place where my kids can get behind a mascot and a logo that's theirs," she said. "They voted for this one hands down and so we can finally move on from this and go forward and hopefully unite our school even more so than it is now."

Del Norte High hired Universal Seating, which has offices in Newport Beach and in Florida, with a $20,000 grant the district received from Building Healthy Communities to improve its lunch rooms, said Deborah Kravitz, the district's representative for Network for a Healthy California. The company is expected to come up with a new color scheme as well as some new art for the high school's small multi-purpose room using student input, Kravitz said.

Kravitz said she and Parker sent Universal Seating representative Richard Ford examples of mascot logos the high school has used in the past. Kravitz said she also told Ford about the controversy that had arisen over Del Norte High's previous use of an Indian chief as its logo.

"Out of the blue one day, he said, 'here's something one of my designers is playing around with,'" Kravitz said. "I said, 'wow, I like it!'"

Kravitz and Parker received the new logo idea earlier this year following the school's first online survey. The second-most popular choice was a Spartan helmet in profile, Parker said. Another popular choice included a Spartan helmet and a sword, but the School Board balked at the idea of a logo depicting weapons.

School officials are currently working to incorporate the new logo on sweatshirts and T-shirts, Parker said. The logo may also be featured on the marching band's new uniforms and sports uniforms as they get replaced, she said.

Any mascot that appears at football games and other sporting events will be a Spartan, Parker said.

This isn't the first time Food Court Artwork has helped design a logo for a school looking to change the image of its mascot, Schuster said in a telephone interview. Some schools have developed four to five different mascots that Food Court Artwork has incorporated into one design, he said.

"This is something we're fairly well practiced at," Schuster said. "We were pleasantly surprised that we've been chosen as a logo. It's a very nice recognition for work we do on a daily basis."

Food Court Artwork and Universal Seating revamps cafeterias and libraries for schools across the country. A recent project, at Hoopa Valley High School, in Humboldt County incorporated the Hoopa Tribe's history and culture using input from the tribe's elders, said Company President Barry Schuster.

"It's called congruency," he said. "It can be used in different departments and activities. We've been doing it for 286 schools around the country."

Del Norte High's revamped multi-purpose room will use artwork depicting Del Norte County's culture, including redwood trees and Easter lilies, Kravitz said. Food Court Artworks will also help develop color schemes and paint themes that the district can install in-house, she said.

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