The Process of Revealing the True
Sullivan was no longer the thriving high school it once was when it was first erected in 1923 under the leadship of Robert Brazil. Since his retirement in 1993, the school declined losing it academic rigor. Complacency seeped into the neighborhood allowing gangs and violence to influence the community.
From 2005 through 2013, the school had been on academic probation with an all-time low of a 54% graudation rate. Classes were half-full and violence was on the rise. There were talks about turning the school around or shutting it down completely if something was not done. In 2013, Chad Adams was hired as Sullivan's new principal with a mission to redeem the once thriving school. With that mission in mind, he contacted ILS to help be a catalyst visually, in establishing change.
How we impacted the brand using our
7-Step Creative Process
1. Listen & Learn the why
Understanding target, core values & beliefs
After sitting with Chad and being present on campus, it quickly became evident that the heart of the school did not match the public's perception of it. There was a distinction between the students who found sanctuary in the school and the few who did not want to be there. The mood and tone of the majority of the students was not one of aggressiveness, but more of kindness, innocence, and curiosity.
Instead of trying to go back to what the school used to be, Chad took the time to understand the pulse of the school. It had changed and more change was needed.
2. Research & Develop
knowing the market & what set them apart
With our initial conversation, Chad and his team gave us an understanding of the surrounding schools and what they were facing. Students were starting to leave to private, charter or IB schools in the surrounding neighborhoods. Families did not feel confident about sending their kids to the community school any longer.
Rather than trying to compete with what the other schools had, Chad and his team understood who their student population really was and catered their school to them. Sullivan soon became a safe heaven for refugee families and their children.
Processing the Strategy together
Realizing his students were from refugees families or immigrants who were trying to understand the American culture and get through school, Sullivan and his team adjusted.
It was imperative to visualize the school that reflected their student demographic. The school was not to reflect aggressiveness, but instead patience, thoughtfulness, wisdeom and strength.
Chad and his team allowed the students to select a mark that connected with them, one sitting patiently, looking over the horizon from above.
Speaking their language
Sullivan began communicating its values and core beliefs. It began casting vision and sharing what it had accomplished and where it would go. It inspired students, faculty, staff and its local community. By developing the International Academy, Sullivan was soon recognized as the leading school for refugees to attend school.
Web design & marketing
Going to Market
Sullivan High School was one of the first schools in CPS to publish a site that was visually driven and immediately show its values and culture. In comparison, most schools flooded their landing page with content that it was too overwhelming to find content, especially on mobile devices.
"You can't increase graduation rates from low 40's to nearly 80% by not having a brand and core values."
“The S on the chest has changed our perception to the community, to our students, and to our parents. But, most importantly, the pride we have with our brand helped transform the culture of our school rapidly! Students and teachers started to believe in something bigger than themselves! It created a story and a family commitment from everyone.
The S permeates through Academics, Athletics and the Arts, it gives people a purpose and when you have a purpose you are motivated to learn and lead!"
Chad Adams | Principal, Sullivan High School
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