Controversial ship logo to be replaced districtwide
The Santa Maria Joint Unified High School District is shifting its brand identity away from its controversial Christopher Columbus-inspired ship and to a logo that will convey educational opportunities.
The board voted unanimously last week to hire Zeste Consulting to design a new look for the district, approving a maximum budget of $75,000.
“I think it’s a long time coming that we’ve been missing on the branding,” board member Dominick Palera said during the meeting. “The company we’re hiring and the money we’re spending is not just a design logo. It’s to identify what this district means.”
Zeste Consulting has worked with public school districts for 6.5 years. Founder Michellene DeBonis said she intends to engage stakeholders throughout the design process.
Board Clerk Diana Perez wanted to ensure stakeholders could participate in Spanish and English and asked about student participation.
“I love the sessions with students, but I warn us in engaging students early on because something might be relevant today that might not be five years from now,” Ms. DeBonis said.
The city of Santa Maria has borne the image of Christopher Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria, for 50 years, and images of the large vessel are found around the city. Residents brought the logo’s controversy to the city council in March, but it was not placed on the agenda.
A Santa Maria Times article draws the origins of the ship’s imagery in Santa Maria to the newspaper’s nameplate.