Vote deadline passes for new Arlington High School 'A'

Principal explains reasons for change, discounts Native American claim

Principal Matt Janger

 UPDATED, Aug. 23: The public is voting for a newly designed "A" logo for Arlington High School, and some are unhappy with the change and have asked for more background..

More than 900 responded to a survey of options earlier this summer, Principal Matt Janger announced, and the competition is down to three finalists. The current logo is at left; see the three options here >>

Please only vote once. The last day to vote is Sunday, Sept. 8.

Following 133 comments on the Arlington List Facebook group on Aug. 22, the site's administrator turned off comments. They continued on the MA Residents' group

 Commenters assume issue

Some commenters thought the change had to do with objection to the image of the Native American in the current logo.

Asked about this and other issues, Principal told YourArlington that this is not the case. He explained in an email Aug. 23:

"This effort is unrelated to the Menotomy Hunter seal. While many advise schools to avoid the use of Native Americans as mascots, the Menotomy Hunter is not our mascot or team name.

"It is a town seal. Historical representations of the role of Native Americans in local history, like the Great Seal of Massachusetts, are generally not raised as an issue."

He provided a link about that issue >> 

"Our mascot, the Spy Ponder, is not a Native American. My understanding is that the first published use of the term 'Spy Ponder' dates to the Harvard newspaper in the 1860s, at the time when Arlington changed its name from West Cambridge to Arlington, to honor the Civil War fallen at Arlington National Cemetery.

"The term 'Spy Ponder' referred to the ice cutters and inhabitants of the area around Spy Pond at that time, not Native Americans."

Trademark issue

So what is behind the change?

" ... [T]he focus of this effort is to provide an option to avoid any concerns that our uniforms would infringe on existing trademarks.

"When I arrived in Arlington, six years ago, we did not have a consistent or official A logo for the high school. We began the process of updating and upgrading uniforms that were badly in need of replacement.

"To make this process easier and cost efficient, the AD [athletics director] chose to use the italicized A. In the time since then, our suppliers have expressed concern over the need for them to arrange royalties or address trademark questions, so we are looking for other options for our official gear and uniforms.

"Folks can continue to choose to put whatever A they like on items made by outside groups and such as boosters, town teams, or youth teams."

Varied submissions

He added around 40 submissions from students, staff and community members were received. A committee, described below, selected the top nine.

"We had over 900 responses on the first vote and posted the leading three that qualified. We currently have well over 1,600 responses to the current vote and will consult with designers as we go forward."

Asked about hiring a designer, as some have suggested on Facebook, he wrote: "Professional logo designs are very expensive and turn out to be controversial anyway. We thought a local submission would be a fun experiment.

"We will seek input on the 'final' choice as we move forward and see whether we find something that sticks, or modify as we move forward."

Initial explanation

Janger had written earlier: Over the years, AHS has used different version of the A. For some years, we used the Old English A, then a Block A, and recently an A that resembles the Alabama A.

"It's time for us to have a consistent A for many different reasons and we would like an A that is unique to Arlington High School and our community," he wrote.

"This decision is one that should reflect the input and ownership of the AHS community. For this reason, we are holding a contest to choose a new Arlington High School 'A.' This does not replace or exclude other existing symbols. It’s just meant to create a new official A that we can display with pride and confidence."

A committee comprising students, coaches, teachers, the athletics director, and chaired by the visual-arts curriculum leader selected nine designs -- among dozens of submissions. The community ranked its top choices, and these three finalists emerged. 

This news announcement was published Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, and was updated Aug. 23, to add principals' comments.