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School board asks for gender equality for new logo
MONROE - The Monroe school board recently tabled the possible new Cheesemakers logo until it's modified to represent both girls and boys athletics.

"If we're going to redo it, let's redo it the right way - represent everybody," said Scott Schmidt, the board's vice president.

Athletic Director Dave Hirsbrunner brought the logo to the school board for a second time at a meeting in June. The modified version he showed still features a burly male cheesemaker against the backdrop of a wheel of cheese.

Since making the original proposal in May, Hirsbrunner said he's surveyed community members on the district's website and Facebook page to get opinions on the design. He also talked to four area master cheesemakers who he said were "excited" about the new logo.

Hirsbrunner said he incorporated several suggestions into the modified version, including toning down the curled mustache and removing the hat.

As of Wednesday, the original version of the logo garnered 26 likes on Facebook, along with 11 "yeses" and 34 "noes" by commenters answering the question "Are you in favor of adding this mascot/logo to the existing MHS block M?" About 16 other comments didn't specify yes or no. The logo can still be viewed on the School District of Monroe Facebook page.

The poll on the district's website was clearer with 73 percent of the 230 responses in favor of the logo and 26 percent against it, according to Chris Medenwaldt, principal of Monroe High School.

But many of the responses the logo received on Facebook took issue with the fact that it features only a man.

"Somehow this thing got turned into a gender issue, which we had no plans of it ever becoming," Hirsbrunner said. "But now it's girl versus boy which I don't want. I don't believe in that."

So he asked area cheesemakers what percentage of their ranks were women. They told him less than 10 percent. "Take that for what it's worth," he said.

It wasn't worth much to the school board.

"I think that the gender issue that came up is not that there's not women cheesemakers," board member Dan Bartholf said. "It (the logo) just didn't maybe reflect our girls athletics."

Medenwaldt pointed out that the current banner in the MHS gym doesn't represent girls athletic either. It shows a Swiss man standing in front of mountains - an image created by the booster club to depict the Cheesemakers name.

But if they change the banner, several board members said, why not be more inclusive?

"It would be kind of cool to be the first one in the conference to represent female athletes," board member Amy Bazley said.

When some suggested putting a Swiss-looking woman on the logo, Medenwaldt said any graphic artist would give them a "video game woman."

"I guarantee you when we ask a graphic artist to put a woman on there, we're going to have to have them tone it down - by a lot," Medenwaldt said.

He also said that hiring an artist to draw the addition would cost the district, which already spent $100 on the proposed logo.

If the logo was used as is, there would be no more costs to the district, according to Hirsbrunner.

The booster club agreed to pay to replace the banner in the MHS gym, and Monroe's current logo - the block "M" - would still be used for everything else. None of the district's schools other than MHS would use the logo for letterhead, because they all use their own symbols. The high school would adopt the new logo on letterhead, but only after they run out of their current stock, Hirsbrunner said.

Bazley and other board members said there might be cheaper options to consider for adding a female counterpart on the logo, such as asking art teacher Kathy King for help.

"I think this would look really good, and it's definitely an improvement over the yodel man that's up there now," Bazley said. "I think you need to go back to the drawing board, though, and represent both genders. I think it's just time for something like that to happen. Whether you guys want to be on the front end of that or the following end, that's up to you. ...

"As the mom of girls who are athletic and have succeeded in athletics, it sure as hell would be nice to see girls on here," she said.