An original artwork by Ron Gaul, an art teacher at Toledo High School, has officially been voted in as the Toledo School District’s new logo.
Gaul’s design was the most popular of four art submissions the Toledo High School Art Committee selected as finalists for the community to vote on.
In total, 500 people voted on a logo design, “which is really good for a community survey,” said Superintendent Chris Rust.
The Toledo School Board formally approved the new logo at a Nov. 18 board meeting and will start officially rebranding with a digitized version of the design in the coming weeks.
Toledo High School was among dozens in Washington forced to change its mascot and imagery after a new state law banned Native American mascots for most public schools.
Formerly the Indians, Toledo chose the Riverhawks as its new mascot.
While Gaul initially wasn’t excited about the mascot change, he thought the riverhawk was a fitting mascot choice after learning from a fellow coach that ospreys — like the ones nesting outside the Toledo Middle School — are riverhawks.
While he’s most well-known in the art world for his “coffee art,” a technique where he paints using a mix of coffee grounds and water, Gaul dabbles in a wide variety of artistic mediums and, as a longtime coach and sports fan, he enjoys designing logos for sports gear and other student programs.
He started brainstorming new logo ideas last spring, before the riverhawk was even chosen as the new mascot.
“That’s sort of the dork I am, when I have some free time, that’s what I like to do. I like to play around with that kind of stuff,” he said of designing sports logos.
He said he took inspiration from a wide variety of different hawk-themed sports logos, taking pieces he liked from different logos, smashing them together and adding his own twist.
He came up with a wide variety of different logo designs, 16 of which were submitted to the district for consideration. And while all of his designs differed from each other, they all had one element in common: the signature capital T with feathers encased in a circle.
Historically, that “circle T” or the “110,” as Toledo staff and alumni called it, was used as an alternate logo for the school and was given as a decal to students who gave “110 effort,” Gaul said.
“So I thought, we’ve got to connect the new with the old. They have to keep the tradition somehow,” he said.
Gaul purposefully put forth designs that fit with the circle T, with the understanding that the feathers in the alternate logo were no longer those of a Native American headdress, but of a riverhawk, so alumni can continue to be proud of their circle T mementos from their Toledo school days.
“A lot of what is happening is we’re taking history and we’re just wiping it away. You can’t do that. You can’t just wipe it away. And so you can change the meaning, you can give it a you know, a fresh look, but it’s still the circle T and it’s still a part of Toledo. That design was huge to me,” he said.
Gaul is in the process of digitizing his winning design for the school district to use on everything from signage to athletics uniforms. He said he won’t make any major changes to the design during the digitization, but he does plan to “clean it up” and make a few minor adjustments before the school district starts formally using it.
Rust expects the rebranding to cost the school district roughly $200,000. The district is hoping to get some of the cost reimbursed by the state, said Rust, but they won’t know until the end of the legislative session in February.