Local News

School rebranding group to survey stakeholders

By Curt Peterson

The Windsor Central Unified Union School District (WCUUSD) configuration and enrollment working group continued discussions Wednesday, Feb. 9 about rebranding the consolidated district that serves the towns of Barnard, Bridgewater, Killington, Pomfret, Pittsfield, Plymouth and Reading.

The next step is surveying all stakeholders, asking for input regarding changing the district’s name at all, and for suggestions for a new name if there is a change.

In the interest of clarity, board member Todd Ulman of Woodstock thought the survey introduction should state the reason for considering a change “right up front.”

“Why should we change the name of a large school district? Because it’s awesome!” Ulman said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”

Working group member Jen Stainton, who is also the curriculum coordinator at Woodstock Union High School, will be adding a paragraph at Ulman’s suggestion.

The group believes a new moniker should express the diverse culture of the seven-town organization, now named for the middle of a county.

Superintendent Sherry Sousa has said that, at academic meetings, WCUUSD is often confused with Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union. A second goal assumes a new brand might attract young families, which could boost enrollment.

There is another reason: mascot renaming. WASPS is an acronym for Woodstock Area Sports Programs, but some associate it with White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

While the district is consolidated, the local facilities are still universally referred to by their town names, such as Barnard, Killington, Woodstock, Prosper Valley (Pomfret/Bridgewater). Keeping those location names might be more utilitarian.

Student attendees Owen Courcey, Aiden Keough-Vella and Genevieve Morel all said their peers were more interested in the eventual treatment of the mascot, and don’t feel the name of the district is particularly important.

Jason Drebber, a 2017 WUHS graduate and current student at UVM working for two concurrent bachelor degrees — geology and environmental science — presented research on physical characteristics within the district that might inspire a successful rebranding.

Following a geological history of formation of the Green Mountains and of Vermont from an ancient sea floor, Drebber said that mineral resources within the district exist only in Bridgewater and Plymouth. These might include gold, iron, silver, lead, copper, talc, limestone, granite and asbestos.

Killington has its mountain, Drebber said, but it’s in Rutland County, the only district town not in Windsor.

It was his recommendation that the district focus on area rivers — Ottauquechee, Waits, Black, Barnard Brook, etc. — or the farms or mills on them, for geological/economic/place reference name choices.

Perhaps looking ahead to reconsideration of the athletic mascot, the students were interested in the “mechanics” of the district name change and overall rebranding process.

Bristow said the group will finalize and disseminate the survey, collect and analyze data, schedule office hours and town halls for public discussion, and ultimately make a recommendation to the board either not to change the district name, or list options for the new brand.

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