Frisco Elementary creates new school sign, encourages student creativity
At Frisco Elementary, the signs they are a-changin’.
Unlike other schools, Frisco Elementary doesn’t have a sign out front to notify parents and community members of the school’s events and activities.
Principal Renea Hill approached parent Roger Cox, founder and president of the local business House of Signs, about designing a sign that would serve that purpose and represent the school’s identity.
Cox worked with the school on the sign for the last couple school years, and he donated some time and materials to the project, while the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association raised matching funds.
The new sign incorporates a panther, which has been the school’s mascot since it opened in 1979, as well as the International Baccalaureate logo and symbols representing the school’s focus on STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math.
In the process, House of Signs overhauled the school’s outdated logo, Cox said, and the new sign’s modern feel reflects the energy of the school. He expects to install the sign before the school year ends.
In the meantime, a group of the school’s students visited House of Signs Friday, Feb. 20, to create signs for the inside of the school, which Hill and Cox said can be confusing for visitors trying to find their way.
Cox gave roughly 30 students in grades three through five a whirlwind tour of the world of design and the importance of branding, he said.
“It was the highlight of my winter,” Cox said. “They were so into it.”
They walked to House of Signs on Main Street and started on the shop’s second-floor studio, where Cox showed the students how designs are digitally rendered in 3D and where students could see some finished products.
Students recognized signs from familiar landmarks around Summit County, and they saw a machine running and projects midway through the creation process.
Downstairs, the kids sat around large drawing tables, checked out materials on the walls about design principles and branding and referred to photos of where signs would go inside the school while they created potential signs for Cox and his team to bring to life.
Cox helped the students keep in mind their school’s new entrance sign and logo, so their way-finding signs would have some consistency.
He said the kids enthusiastically drew a slew of creative ways of helping visitors find where they are and where they need to go.
“I had multiple comments from kids that said I want to work here some day,” he said. “They were enthralled.”
Cox plans to see a handful of the kids’ creations through more steps of the design process and eventually build and install some.
BREAKING OUT OF A NORMAL SCHOOL DAY
The students’ field trip to House of Signs was part of a new event at Frisco Elementary called Break Free Friday, in which students were separated into 11 group projects based on STEM-related problems they wanted to work on for the day.
“The entire agenda of the day was different,” Hill said. “They spent the whole day in that challenge, and they went through the design-thinking process.”
The steps in that process are empathize, define, ideate, create a prototype and test the prototype, Hill said.
Some of the younger students worked on building a nutritious snack, while others created mazes to encourage a classroom guinea pig to exercise.
One group designed arcade games out of cardboard, another made a video to welcome new students to the school and yet another designed preschool playgrounds the school might build someday.
“The kids were so engaged it was insane,” Hill said. “It was such a success. It was so good for the kids, and the teachers were jazzed.”
Teachers plan to incorporate more of the design-thinking process into their daily instruction, she said, and the school will make Break Free Friday an annual tradition.
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