By: Nicholas Garland
In August of 2014, Design Tech High School opened to 150 freshmen who came to school to realize that their classrooms were bare and furnitureless. The students and their teachers sat on the floor in large circles, discussing what their ideal classrooms would look like. The first few days of school were dedicated to designing the interior of the classrooms and even building the furniture itself. Once the classrooms came together, the students realized the school was still missing something – a mascot. Director Ken Montgomery said this was the plan all along, “the idea was to let the students pick the mascot, we just chose our colors, name, and that was it, the rest was up to them.”
Director of Intersession, Wendy Little had a plan to hold a design challenge for students to design the best possible mascot for d.tech. First, students were challenged to design a mascot to meet their partner’s wants and needs. My partner was Maxine Zigmond-Ramm, and I found that the best mascot for her was a calculator because she described the school as “intelligent, smart, different, and creative”. She immediately took to the idea, saying “It was great, funny, and felt pretty accurate at the time.”
The second part of the challenge instructed students to test their mascot within their design lab classes to gather feedback. A lot of the students in my class were fond of “the calculators” and found it funny. Although the design challenge asked us to change our ideas based on feedback, I already felt like my idea was too perfect to change (which is definitely not a good design thinking mindset, by the way). Each design lab class voted on a mascot that they felt best represented d.tech’s spirit. There was no question, the class recognized my brilliant idea and voted it as their favorite!
The next design challenge brought a small group of students together and asked them to reframe the user as not just d.tech students, but also as a group that included teachers, administration, families, and students from other high schools.
Calculators made enough of an impact on some of the students that they decided to pitch it as a top choice. The final four mascots were the Diamonds, Dragons, Lumberjacks, and Calculators.
Can you guess which ended up winning? Sadly, not the Calculators as I had hoped. Montgomery said, “We knew the Calculators would definitely impact students’ decision on coming to d.tech.” Sophomore Oscar Gundel told me, “I 100% would not have come here” if the d.tech mascot ended up being the Calculators. Even though at the start there was such avid support for the Calculators, students eventually realized that going with the Dragons was the best option. When I asked Zigmond-Ramm if she was unhappy with the outcome she said, “No, I actually want d.tech to be something people aren’t always making fun of… I mean sometimes is fine, but not always.” Although the Calculators didn’t become our official mascot, it has remained a long-lasting joke among students.