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What will Hammond call its future high schools? The school city could have an answer by Memorial Day
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What will Hammond call its future high schools? The school city could have an answer by Memorial Day

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Hammond High School

Hammond High School

HAMMOND — The School City of Hammond may decide what to call its two remaining high schools by Memorial Day.

With the opening of a new high school on Calumet Avenue in the fall of 2021, the Hammond district will close its Clark and Gavit middle/high schools — combining Clark and Hammond High School students in the new building, and Gavit and Morton High School students in the current Morton building.

In a town hall meeting Tuesday conducted via Zoom teleconference, Colorado-based consultant John Jenson detailed the results of a recent community branding survey seeking suggestions for school names, colors, mascots and more.

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Among some of the top responses were Hammond Central for the new school and a combination of the Morton and Gavit names, Jenson said.

"The heart of our community — people see their value, their future being tied closely to our schools," Superintendent Scott Miller said. "That's really awesome. I really love, really encourage those responses."

The school city has entrusted its school naming efforts to Jenson as a part of a recent contract with school branding provider Jostens.

In February, shortly before coronavirus-driven school closures, Jenson toured Hammond's four high schools and met with a committee of about 60 community members, district administrators and students to introduce the branding process. He said he has since discussed branding efforts with Miller and each remaining school's principal.

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Jenson said omitting duplicate answers, he tallied around 3,600 responses in the district's branding survey which was open for more than two weeks.

The survey was advertised on the district's website and social media for community response. All students at the middle and high schools levels, as well as some fourth and fifth graders, were prompted by teachers to weigh in.

About 60% of the responses came from students, Jenson said.

Name and mascot suggestions ranged from the serious to the silly, including the likes of "Bishop Noll Institute" and "Theodore Roosevelt School of Bear Wrestling."

Some paid homage to Hammond's history and industry, suggesting mascots like the Steelmen, the Railers, the Ironworkers or the Tigers, from the district's former Hammond Tech.

Others recognized politicians and educators at the local and national level, including name suggestions like Barack Obama High; Donald J. Trump High; McDermott High, for Hammond Mayor Thomas McDemott Jr.; Scott Miller, after the district's superintendent; and Watkins High, for the former longtime superintendent Walter Watkins who died in December.

A shared thread of unity and community pride rang through many responses, Jenson said, suggesting the strength in a "Central" name.

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Common responses will be reflected in a new survey to be distributed to the Hammond community in about a week, Jenson said. 

There, the consultant will seek feedback on frequently suggested names and mascots from the first survey.

A video recording of Tuesday night's Zoom meeting will be posted to the school city's YouTube channel, Miller said. A similar Zoom town hall may be organized in the future to discuss results of the upcoming survey. There, Jenson said he hopes to present renderings of top voted branding concepts.

"It means a lot to me to get this right," Jenson said. "When it's all said and done, you're going to have a couple schools that mean something."

The Hammond district plans to put on its first virtual school board meeting at 6 p.m. next Tuesday, accessible via the school city's YouTube page.  

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