Predecessor of the Red Raider

Pauline Alterio, Photographer

Six months after the controversial retirement of the Red Raider, the Bellefonte Area school board has met to discuss its predecessor. The meeting, which took place November 3, was a culmination of two months’ work on behalf of a special rebranding committee, which presented three logo selections for board members to discuss.

“We were asked to make recommendations on what the logo will look like,” Superintendent Mrs. Tammie Burnaford said, who spoke on behalf of the Rebranding Committee. “[We] followed the guidelines just as [the board] said, and created three possible logos.”

Those three, Mrs. Burnaford explained, were created with historical relevance, simplicity, or graphical sense in mind. As such, the committee first proposed a miner (though it was noted that order of presentation did not signify order of preference), citing the enormous prevalence the iron industry once held in Bellefonte, and highlighting the possible simplicity the symbol would present, as a pickaxe could, according to Mrs. Burnaford, be used in place of the “T” in “Bellefonte.”

Similarly, the committee also proposed the use of a knight as a new logo. While admitting to a lack of historical significance, Burnaford brought up numerous advantages a knight could pose, most of which, she said, would be a gender, racially, and ethnically-neutral symbol, citing the board’s motion to create a school logo abstaining from any socially-identifiable traits.

Mrs. Burnaford also suggested, however, two symbols without human representation. A hawk, for one, held local significance (given the birds’ prevalence in the Bellefonte area), and could fashion well with “Raider,” since “hawks raid the nest of their enemies.” Following suit, the superintendent proposed the board vote not create a new logo, but instead use the “Block B” symbol seen already throughout the district.

Despite the wide range of proposals, though, Mrs. Burnaford reminded board members and meeting attendees that logo suggestions were not final, and none had to be used. She did, however, thank rebranding committee members for their dedication, respect, and productivity.

“I want to thank the members of the committee, they were absolutely outstanding. They may have had opposing views, but they were incredible. About 30 [community members] showed up, and there were five high school students who did quite well,” she said.

But the superintendent was alone in her enthusiasm. Numerous board members expressed apprehension,  most of all [board] President John Guizar.

“I’m all about the rebranding committee, but I think we’re pushing too hard. We’re in the middle of a board transition, so we need to settle down and see where this issue goes,” he said. “I think we shouldn’t push this forward, don’t rush it.”

Mr. Guizar also warned against student intervention, referencing the polarized environment surrounding the logo rebranding.

 “We can’t just rely on students, I don’t want them to feel the magnitude and weight of such a big decision,” he said. “I don’t want to put students against each other.”

Fellow board member Julie Fitzgerald agreed, though added that the controversy lay not only in younger Bellefonte community members, but among the older as well.

“It can be most difficult for older alumni to embrace change or acceptance of change,” she said. “I would really look forward to a work session, maybe see how we can [fix] this.”

That work session, however, may no longer be on the horizon. Following November 2 elections, “Win 4 Bellefonte” ticket members Jack Bechdal II, Andrea Royer, Jeff Steiner, and Jon Guizar (the latter two were reelected) swept the polls, beating out Democratic candidates. The “Win 4 Bellefonte” members ran a campaign on the board’s 6-3 decision to drop the term “Red” from “Red Raider,” calling the move “unnecessary.” Their victory now puts the board’s current rebranding trajectory in jeopardy.