Update - October 9, 2020
October 9, 2020
I am writing to update you on our process to establish a new nickname and mascot to represent Freeman High School. This summer we asked if the word “rebel” represented our core values as a school, and we determined that it was time to retire that word because of its ties to the Confederacy and its position counter to our belief in an inclusive Freeman Family for all.
We have been working with a team from VCU’s Brandcenter led by Freeman alumni to identify our core values and establish what aspects we want in our new name. They have spent the last four weeks systematically researching and investigating DSF to articulate these aspects of our school culture. Their findings are enlightening, and I wanted to share them with you.
To try to illuminate and articulate the many layers of DSF’s school culture, our ethos, this team engaged with 1,000 community survey responses, focus groups with student leaders, coaches, and members of the mascot committee and in-depth interviews with several key stakeholders.
Here is what we found:
I. Core Values
Among the many beliefs and characterizations of Freeman High School, three deeply rooted core values stood out. These values seem to be “in the bricks” at DSF and span generations and demographics.
Family. More than a catch phrase, the DSF students and community members believe that we are a collective, made stronger by our diverse backgrounds and perspectives. We are together, no matter what.
Excellence. We set and rise to high standards, demanding excellence from ourselves in and out of the classroom and earning a reputation for high achievement.
Additional DSF Family Values:
Among the most important findings from this team was an overwhelming sense from students, staff, and community that we feel that we simultaneously value our independence and that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves; we are individual pieces of a more powerful whole.
II. Factors to Consider in a New Freeman Nickname/Symbol:
Collective Identity – While independence is important, Freeman students value being a part of something greater than oneself
Purposeful Movement – We value evolution and dynamic development; moving forward.
Retain the Spirit – The spirit of the previous nickname for many was that of independent spirit and challenging the status quo, a new name might retain that spirit in a more inclusive way.
Unique, yet Timeless Quality –Both traditional and modern, unique like Freeman, but able to stand the test of time.
III. More than a mascot
DSF students and families feel that our school symbolism is more than a mascot and instead represents the collective positive feelings of the Freeman experience. This is about more than a name on a jersey; it’s about something that represents the feeling or spirit of Freeman High School.
Our students reported that they liked not having an actual mascot, (someone in a silly suit) because it makes the students themselves the physical embodiment of the school.
Interviews and focus groups provided insight that they valued the many decades of traditions within the history of DSF, and hope that the new name will be another layer on top of that history, not a replacement of it.
Now that we understand what we are looking for, it’s time to talk about name choices. We want your help, especially input from our students.
Next week, we will send out the short list of community-generated mascot/nickname possibilities, chosen through the careful process and abundant feedback outlined above. We will include how each matches the Freeman school culture. Your feedback will help inform the final pick (by HCPS policy, a principal’s decision) which will be advised by a team of student leaders.
The incredibly work by the Brandcenter team along with a desire to get more feedback from the community has led us to alter our timeline slightly. Since we are more concerned with the depth than the speed of this process, we are comfortable waiting just a bit longer.
Week of October 12: Short List Survey to the Freeman Community.
Week of October 19: Short List Survey closes, Brandcenter creative team continues mock-ups of choices for final selection
Week of October 26th: Student committee meets to advise school leaders
Week of November 2nd : Student Committee meets to advise school leaders
Week of November 9th: Community Notification via message, video, and news release to share our new name, logo and plans for new gear and apparel for our students and teams!
Thank you sincerely for your patience and engagement with this process. It continues to be a fascinating look into who we are as a school and community, and I firmly believe that we will emerge a stronger and more united Freeman Family than ever as we reach its conclusion.
If you have any questions or feedback, you can see our process and thoughts at www.freemanmascot.info or reach out directly to me.
Douglas S. Freeman High School