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Park Rapids School Board considers Panther rebranding

A member of the Coaches Association suggested Oct. 3 seeking unified imagery for school teams.

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Kevin Murphy asks the Park Rapids School Board on Oct. 3, 2022 to give the Coaches Association the all-clear to explore a redesign of the schools' Panther and Paw logos.
Robin Fish, Park Rapids Enterprise
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The Park Rapids School Board heard a presentation Monday calling for redesign of the school’s Panther and Paw logos.

Kevin Murphy reported that he polled members of the coaches association, and many of them responded that “we need to get more unified as an athletics department,” regarding team logos and identity.

Murphy said he counted 12 different Panther logos and two Paw designs in the high school gym. “We do have a little bit of an identity crisis here,” he said, adding that some of the logos are trademarked by other teams.

He said the coaches association would try to figure out a logo, at least to have consistent imagery on jerseys and school apparel.

“That might help,” he said, “but a school logo is a little bit bigger than the coaches getting together and deciding one morning what they want to do. It’s more of a schoolwide, communitywide (discussion of) what does it mean to be a Park Rapids Panther.”

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Murphy reported that a representative from Jostens, which sells class rings and letter jackets, said the company provides a free service to schools it works with – a consultant named John Jenson who meets with schools and helps them develop a brand identity and logo designs.

Murphy said he talked with Jenson last week and discussed the issue of Park Rapids’ school logos. He said Jenson regularly passes through Park Rapids and would be willing to help.

“He sends out a four-question survey,” Murphy said, “gathering information about what do you think it means to be a Park Rapids Panther.”

According to Jenson, Murphy said, the survey targets not only students, coaches and school staff but also the community. “We want community buy-in,” he said.

As examples of Jenson’s past work, Murphy cited the Rock Ridge Wolverines, a team formed by a merger between the Eveleth and Virginia, Minn. schools, and the Rockville, Md. Rams. In the Maryland case, Jenson’s survey led them to design the logo around the idea that a ram “is just going to put its head down; it’s going to meet problems head-on.”

“I thought that it was a really good service that Jostens could provide,” said Murphy, asking for the school board’s blessing to proceed. He noted that his discussion with the coaches indicates they are willing to change.

School board members voiced general agreement that it’s time to deal with the logo issue.

“I personally think that Jostens’ price is right, too,” said board member Dana Kocka. “I think people will buy into it, because they want to be Panthers. … This is a great time, and it sounds like there’s passion and you’ve got a lot of focus.”

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School board chair Sherry Safratowich advised Murphy to work with administration and the coaches and put together a committee to work on the issue. Board member Dennis Dodge urged including older alumni in the process.

“I’m going to rely on some of the guidance from Jostens, too,” said Murphy. “Why not? If he’s an expert at this, and that’s what he does, it’s a great resource. And if he has an idea for how to put that (committee) together and get it going, I think that’s great.

“And I think, with the building project going on, (it’s) perfect timing.”

MORE RELATED COVERAGE:
The school board learned Jan. 23 that the district is part of a group of districts partnering in a $3.8 million DHS grant to increase mental health services in the schools.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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