Posted Date: 03/08/2022
Board Of Education Approves Official Redhawks Logo
Union students voted decisively in favor of the proposed Redhawks logo, with 72 percent of students in grades 4-12 responding positively to the design put forth as a finalist. The Board of Education followed suit Monday night, unanimously approving the student-created design, declaring it the official logo of the District’s new Redhawks mascot.
The vote concludes a 14-month process following the November 9, 2020, decision to move away from the district’s previous mascot that had been in place for more than 75 years. One year later, on November 8, 2021, the Board voted unanimously to select Redhawks as the official mascot for Union Public Schools.
“I am really proud of the work that has been done to take us in this new direction as the Union Redhawks,” said Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler. “This stellar design – by one of our own students – will enable us to soar into the future with a mascot of which we can all be proud. I think it does a great job of capturing Union’s spirit of fierceness, while aspiring to excellence in all that we do. GO REDHAWKS!”
On Monday, it was also revealed that the winning design was created by High School junior Caiden Morales, a Union “lifer” who has been at the district since pre-kindergarten at Peters Elementary School. Largely a self-taught artist, Morales was a student last semester in Jennifer Fisher’s Introduction to Marketing class and is a member of UHype, the district’s marketing club for students. He is also an avid student athlete in cross-country and previously in soccer.
“What got me thinking about the design was really my dad,” said Morales. “He encouraged me to do some designs on my own and submit them because he wanted the school to have a cool mascot logo. As far as my art goes, I’ve drawn since I was a kid. I only got an iPad about two years ago or so, but I’ve always done pencil and paper design. I was the kid who always draws all over their assignments at school. The iPad has opened a lot of unique opportunities for me. It allows me to paint digitally. I draw pictures that I think are cool and I also enjoy animation, being able to bring things to life.”
It was Morales’ animation work that originally captured the district’s attention, according to Chris Payne, Union’s Chief Communications Officer. “While there were a lot of design concepts in the works, we had not yet settled on anything. When Caiden sent me an animation he had created, it totally blew me away. His concept captured the fierceness we were looking for in a new mascot, and as we began to show it to Union insiders, it quickly became apparent that everyone liked it. Caiden was on to something, and we worked closely with him to develop it into the final version of the mascot that was approved. Despite being a first-time designer, his work is really astonishing.”
Morales is somewhat surprised at his good fortune. “I wasn’t planning on being part of this process. I just wanted to draw something cool, design a little logo and give it to the district. I didn’t expect Union to really use it. I just thought they would draw inspiration from it and make something else from it. But the district went with it and now I’m here.”
Morales believes graphic design may be something he wants to pursue as a career. “I don’t know how the saying goes, but it’s [something] like, ‘If you like what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ I like what I do, so I do see how this could be a career for me.
“It feels great. It’s a big accomplishment in my life that I never really expected. To think it will be everywhere. It will be on t-shirts. It might even be put on a school building. To think I might be 50 or 40 someday and I will look back and my logo will still be here on a school building. Regardless of what happens, I want it to be a true representation of Union, one that people will really be proud of.”
Morales received a standing ovation at the meeting for his work on the logo, and his parents, Misti and Gabriel Morales, were in attendance. Caiden also received the very first t-shirt produced with the new Redhawks logo.
Prior to the official vote by the students, the finalist logo had gotten a favorable response from more than 1,500 Union supporters who participated in a Thought Exchange. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they “loved” or “liked” the logo that was offered up for consideration. More than 1,000 thoughts were shared, and 15,426 ratings provided.
Based on the feedback, some fine minor adjustments were made to the logo, including making Union larger and the silver color was lightened.
Board Discontinues Mask Mandate
Union students and staff will not be required to wear masks following the Board of Education’s decision to end mask requirements based on the recommendation of administration.
Associate Superintendent Charlie Bushyhead said, “I recommend the Board of Education consider and vote to modify the district’s COVID response procedures in regard to masks and face coverings. It is proposed that effective March 8, 2022, the mask and face covering requirement be suspended and not required inside or outside our district buildings.”
The district had previously required all staff and students to wear a mask or face covering when in the presence of others unless they have an exception. Based on the recent changes in the COVID-19 infection rates and the availability of vaccination, Bushyhead recommended the District modify the mask requirement in all venues, inside and out. Staff, students, and patrons will still have the option to wear a face covering for preventative reasons. If there is a change in cases or requirements by local authorities, this decision can be re-evaluated.
School Calendar Still Under Consideration
Board members continue to seek public input on the proposed school calendar for next year after administration tweaked proposals and presented two options instead of three for consideration during a second reading. The Board will not make a decision until at least the third reading at its next meeting April 11.
Under the two new proposals, Union would still start school on August 17. One calendar calls for ending the school year on May 30 and the other would end on May 31. Winter break is also slightly different with one proposal asking that winter break run December 19 until January 2 and the other running from December 21 until January 3.
The new proposals also change professional development days and brings back two virtual learning days. Administrators originally proposed seven professional development days with no virtual learning days. The options presented for second reading now include five professional days and two virtual learning days.
View the Board’s first reading of the proposed calendar here: https://www.unionps.org/309103_2?articleID=99384
Board Approves Revisions to Student Transfer Policy
Board members approved revisions to the District’s new Student Transfer Policy, which explains how a request for transfer into Union Public Schools will be approved or refused.
Most of the revisions made help clarify specific items or actions needed to take place in order for approval, deleted unnecessary wording or removed unnecessary requirements or procedures.
Under the new state law – Oklahoma SB783/Education Open Transfer Act – school districts must set their capacity for out-of-district transfers by January 1 of each year and publish quarterly updates as to how many open seats are available under that capacity policy.
The Board also approved capacity levels and the calculated open transfer capacity, which are to be posted on the school website by April 1. Visit https://www.unionps.org/transfers for more information.
In other action, the Board:
The Board of Education recognized 10 students who made the All-State musician roster this year, participating in All-State Band, Orchestra and Choir. They competed against thousands of students around the state in a rigorous audition process for top honors and a chance to perform. After three days of intensive rehearsals, they then put on a program. “This was their opportunity to play with the best musicians across the state,” said Band Director Charles Pisarra.
The Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler recognized and congratulated High School math teacher Rebecka Peterson, who was named the Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year. Learn more about her fantastic achievement here.
Video Recording of Board Meeting