This week's E-Connections feature demonstrates how Mercer Island High School students worked collaboratively to create a meaningful school motto
Using critical thinking and problem solving to create a school motto
In 2013, Mercer Island High School Principal Vicki Puckett proposed that the school create a motto that captured the spirit of what the high school represents. "These powerful words will become the action of our daily lives as part of this educational community," she said. "We want to build a school motto to live by." She chose to put the project in the hands of MIHS students from all grade levels.
"By collaboratively creating a motto for Mercer Island High School, we can create connection and accountability," said then-junior Jack Larkin. Alex Seidel, now a graduate, added, "It's nice to have something to unite us that we can live by as a whole community. We have such a spirited, outgoing, positive school and community. We want to capture and define that."Beginning at the MIHS Associated Student Body retreat in August of 2013, the student leaders embarked on a year-long journey to establish a school motto for MIHS. Leaders from the BRIDGES program at MIHS were assigned the task of collecting input from stakeholders in the community, including students, teachers, parents, alumni and other Mercer Island community leaders.
The creation of an outreach strategy encouraged the students to think critically about their target audiences and to solve problems about how to reach them and get the right manner of feedback.
First, they needed to get input from different community stakeholders that communicate most effectively in different ways. They started with conversations and in-person surveys of the student body during BRIDGES periods. Students were asked questions to identify priorities and values and establish words to represent those values. What words represent our individual and group actions in this education community?
To reach out to the larger Mercer Island community, including alumni and local leaders, students built an online survey that was distributed through the school website and the Mercer Island Reporter, which could then additionally be placed on social media platforms or shared by email.
Once the data from students, parents, alumni and community leaders was reviewed and collated to identify themes, the information was presented to teachers by email and at a staff meeting. After much collaborative discussion and debate, three words were chosen to represent MIHS: Integrity, Innovation, and Inspiration.
With the motto in place, the students then coordinated with teacher Laura Totten and her graphic design students to engage in a motto-design project. Each graphic design student created a logo using the motto and the logos were voted on by students and staff.
The design itself required a great deal of problem solving as well. Totten said, "Students had to consider the personality of the design by carefully choosing a font that represents the feeling of the piece. It was also a challenge to reconcile the symmetrical MI and the asymmetrical words to create balance and a readable design."
The motto and logo are now in the process of being rolled out to the school community and the hope is to achieve full implementation by the end of this school year.
Contact: Randy Bolerjack