By Steve Robinson | September 10, 2018 - 10:52 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

If I mentioned a company or an organization to you and asked you to tell me how the public identifies it by sight, I’m willing to bet you could tell me what logo the company or group uses to identify itself. The lower case yellow M of McDonald’s, for example; or Maxwell House Coffee’s tilting cup with the last drop leaving the cup, or the American Red Cross in a circle of white in the background most.

At Normal-based Unit 5 School District’s recent 70th anniversary celebration, those in attendance were the first to see an updated logo for the district. It has been many years since such a change has been seen in the emblem used to identify the district.

As part of the celebration which took place in the cafeteria of Chiddix Junior High School prior to the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 8, those who gathered for the celebration, numbering roughly 40 or so, were the first to see the district’s new logo, the emblem by which even residents of Normal and the county who didn’t have kids in school in the district could recognize it.

The logo retains orange as its primary color, and has double semi circles at its sides. Those meet bold black letters at the top and bottom. At the top reads, “ McLEAN COUNTY ” and at the bottom reads “UNIT 5.” A mortarboard sits in front of an open book in its lower third.

From that mortarboard, 70 white straight lines, or beams, one for each of the 70 years Unit 5 has been in operation, extend upward.

“We have been talking about updating the logo for several years,” explained Dayna Brown, director of communications and community relations for the district, in reviewing why the district sought the change. In describing the redesign, she explained, “We knew we wanted to keep the circle as in the prior logo, we knew we wanted to keep the orange color, we wanted to give it a more modern feel. We wanted to make it more applicable to what Unit 5 is today and what it will be in the future.”

The district turned to Ben Matthews who operates as a sideline BAM Design to create the new logo. When he’s not putting such creativity to use, Matthews is employed by Illinois Education Association. Matthews said Brown knew about his graphics design work when he’s not on duty with IEA and “she let me know Unit 5 was looking at redoing their logo, partly because of the 70th anniversary.” He added Brown asked him if he’d be interested in creating the new design.

After talking to Brown, Matthews set to work on a trio of logo designs which he presented to the district for consideration. Unit 5 then used its Facebook page to show off Matthews’ work and asked residents to vote on the social media site to determine the winner.

“This was challenging for me because the district did want to maintain a lot of elements from the previous logo,” Matthews said. “They wanted all the elements to be balanced.” It also had to be simple enough to be duplicated in various media, he added, including so it could be embroidered on clothing.

“I needed to take their history and give it a fresh look,” Matthews said. He provided Brown with three designs for the district to consider putting before residents. Once district officials approved the three designs and posted them onto the social networking website, voting began. Because he has a full-time job, Unit 5’s assignment was one of around 10 to 12 he takes on annually, he said.

Matthews said he sketches out on paper what he wants to create before using a computer design program to make the final product.

Of the assignment, 42-year-old Matthews said it was an honor to be asked by the school district he grew up in, attended classes in and once taught in to create the design. In his youth, he attended both Colene Hoose and Oakdale Elementary Schools and Parkside Junior High School. Students attending Prairieland Elementary School saw him at the front of their classrooms from 1999 through 2007. But his secondary education finished outside Unit 5, said, as he graduated from University High.

The previous logo was around for a number of decades. Here’s hoping Matthews’ creation helps carry out the message of the district going into the future for decades to come.

U-High’s Jackson To Suit Up At Jacksonville: On another subject, University High School head football coach John Johnson told me this week sophomore wide receiver Savion Jackson will suit up when the 0-3 Pioneers visit Central State Eight foe Jacksonville Friday. Jackson was knocked unconscious during a kickoff return against Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin during the season opener between the two sides Aug. 24 at Hancock Stadium.

Both trainers and paramedics worked on Jackson, finally transporting to a hospital. He did wake a couple of times while being worked on, Johnson told reporters after the contest. The game was ended with 9:16 left in the contest with the Cyclones up 42-0.

I’m hoping to get readers a column in the future on Savion’s experience.

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