Iowa Mennonite School will start the 2019-20 school year with a new name and a new look.
At an open house Tuesday, school officials announced that IMS will head into the new school year as Hillcrest Academy.
“We are excited about our brand as we begin a new part of our journey to a bright future as Hillcrest Academy,” Director of Advancement Jeremy Ours said.
Over the last year and a half, the IMS operating board and administrative team looked at ways of getting better at strategic marketing and outreach, with the idea of reaching out to families who do not attend Mennonite churches but are seeking the opportunity for “their students to learn and participate in a safe, supportive, Christ-centered community,” a press release from the school stated.
“In order for IMS to grow, it is critical for the school to find a way to attract families who don’t attend Mennonite churches,” the release said. “This includes rebranding, offering new programming and reaching out more aggressively to our growth demographic of the surrounding communities.”
The press release said that the strategy involves using marketing strategies and a new brand using multiple marketing platforms, creating a comprehensive word-of-mouth marketing campaign and utilizing a network of current families, alumni and community members to help attract new families.
“Rebranding is the key piece to these marketing strategies, but it is not the remedy by itself, but the foundation for us to build on moving forward,” Ours said.
The name “Hillcrest” is a significant part of the IMS story.
The Hillcrest Union is the multi-use auditorium and gymnasium at the school that was dedicated in 1955.
“The use of Hillcrest in the name of the school will connect us to our past and all the things that make us who we are as a school community, while at the same time allowing us to embrace who we need to be in the future,” Principal Dwight Gingerich said.
The school’s operating board and administrators partnered with North Star Marketing to come up with a logo that captures the school’s mission and vision.
“After distilling all the information we gathered from the brand kick-off meeting with IMS, there were some important attributes of the brand that became clear,” Kyle Smith, the designer from North Star Marketing, said. “Features that I really wanted to capture were Christ-centered, the hilltop location, the concept of a light on a hill, hope, unity and community.
“I also wanted to include a design that would express the excellence of a college prep school. This concept is based on the school being a beacon in the community; I love the idea of the school being ‘a light on the hill.’
“The cross is at the summit, and it shows that Jesus is at the center of all things. The light ray completes the horizontal crossbar of the H. The fields and crop rows make up the surrounding hillside and help give identity to the location.”
The tagline, “Academics that Inspire. Faith that Leads,” indicates that Hillcrest Academy will help students grow in both academics and faith.
The rebranding reaches to the school’s athletic program as well.
The school added interscholastic sports in 1972 but has not had a mascot … until now.
The Hillcrest Academy teams will now be known as the Ravens, and the school’s colors will remain the same.
We feel maroon and black completely fit with the new mascot,” Gingerich said. “The mascot concept characterizes strength and confidence but also playfulness.
“The raven is often considered the world’s most intelligent bird, which is fitting for a school which hangs its hat on academic excellence but embraces the fact that its athletic programs and their successes are what put them on the map.”
Gingerich added that one of the original mascot suggestions in 1972 was the Ravens.