BEREA, Ohio (WJW) — An Ohio high school logo has been removed from its school district website over concerns that it resembles a white power symbol.
An art teacher in the district created the logo when Berea High School and Midpark High School merged in 2013. The logo for Berea-Midpark High School depicts a fist clenching a lightning bolt to represent the Titans.
“He looked at mythology. He looked at titans. He looked at what other school districts had done with their titan logo and their titan mascot,” said Superintendent Tracy Wheeler.
Five fingers were chosen to pay tribute to the 50-year rivalry between the high schools before the merger, and five groups uniting: students, teachers, administrators/support staff, parents and community.
The hand was then folded into a fist, according to the artist, because “the fingers need to come together, together they are stronger than each individual part.”
“I know the concern wasn’t so much the fist as the color of the fist,” Wheeler said.
In the original logo, the fist was white, which concerned some staff members. That escalated following protests and racial tensions across the country.
“We did have five of our staff members, who are African American, reach out to me in various ways asking if it’s time for the district to take a look at that,” Wheeler said.
The logo was discussed at last week’s Berea City School District board meeting.
Board President Ana Chapman said the white power aspect had not occurred to members previously, but they agreed it needed to be addressed.
“We just had to speak honestly about what people are seeing in that logo and what we could do to remedy that situation,” Chapman said. “The hope is to come up with something that represents everyone in our community.”
The board also passed a resolution on inclusion and equity. As part of the resolution, it will create a committee to focus on diversity and inclusion.
“There are a lot of different facets to it,” Chapman said. “It is to focus on diversity and inclusion in all areas of our school community, including curriculum, extracurricular activities, groups … everything.”
New renderings of the logo were created and the artist is working on additional versions to present before the committee. The old logo is being phased out in the district and is no longer an option for uniforms and other items.
A new Titan logo is expected to be designed and selected, by Jan. 2021, contingent on what happens with the coronavirus pandemic.
In the meantime, the superintendent said the district has four or five other logos that have been approved and have already been in use.