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October 6, 2012

Students offered chance to design seal

MT. VERNON — Students across Jefferson County have an opportunity to do something never done in 193 years, and what one of those students accomplishes may survive another 193 years — or beyond.

Administered through the Hamilton-Jefferson Regional Office of Education, grade school and high school students are invited to enter a contest to design a new county seal, something the county has done without since its founding in 1819.

The winner of the contest will take home an iPad, but Robert Knutson, assistant principal at Mt. Vernon Township High School, told students Friday that something far more lasting is at stake.

“This seal, this is how important it is going to be. It is going to be on letterhead. It’s going to be on the website. It’s going to be on the side of a snowplows ... It’s something that is going to be there for a fair amount of time,” Knutson said.

“You become part of county history for a lifetime,” said Knutson, who is also a county board member.

Knutson was joined by Jefferson County Board Chairman Robert White in two 2-D design classes taught by art instructor Jarod Kessler whose students have been working on their designs for about a week. The design contest has been made part of coursework in the two art classes.

White was there to give students a better understanding of what a seal is and why it is important. He also shared his thoughts on some possible design elements students might consider.

The push for a new seal coincides with other county board initiatives to better promote the county including the recent approval of spending up to $25,000 on a new website, White said.

The seal, he told students, should represent characteristics that are common to the county but also distinguish it from others. Ultimately the seal helps to tell the county’s story and becomes the symbol or brand by which people identify it.

“This is a big deal. It’s a huge deal,” White started. “If you get the opportunity to design this seal, you are going to own that. That is your creation. You’re the one that the county board made the decision on (as a finalists) and then gave it to the general public to vote on to accept the county seal, something we’ve never had,” White said.

The deadline for entries is Oct. 18, in time for the next regularly scheduled county board meeting at which a number of designs will be named finalists, White said. Those finalists will then be voted on by the public to determine the winning design, which will be announced at the November board meeting.

Knutson also encouraged students to use the exercise as a business learning opportunity and to question White as they might a client needing design or artwork. He also reminded students that the contest presents an opportunity to begin a professional portfolio.

Win or lose, Kaelynn Hendricks, a senior at MVTHS, said the contest provides an opportunity for students to consider where they come from as they pursue their futures.

“Even if I don’t win anything it’s still a nice way to keep home as a part of me,” she said.

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