Efforts to brand Naperville North leave students with mixed feelings

Efforts+to+brand+Naperville+North+leave+students+with+mixed+feelings

Photo by Peyton Arens

Peyton Arens, Staff Writer

In response to the mixed feelings about returning to school this fall, Naperville North High School’s administration has taken many measures to make students feel safe and comfortable with in-person learning. From COVID-19 SHIELD testing to off campus lunch for all students during first semester, the effort is clearly there. But their possibly most obvious, initiative was met with student responses different from what they may have expected. 

The administration is celebrating the school’s 50th anniversary (one year late) with the word “driven” on display throughout the entire building. As part of the rebranding, the building features large banners inside and out and new signage that advertises the word, and the concept, of “driven.” The most obvious evidence of the rebranding is the vinyl decals on walls, and covering some windows.  Bella Grimaldi, a junior at North, believes that this is simply putting a Band-aid on a bullet hole. What may have started as a joke among Naperville North students, commenting about the school’s lack of windows, has actually turned into frustration for many students. 

“The building is already missing windows, most of my classes have almost no natural light. Between the masks and now the loss of natural light it feels isolating. Putting vinyl covers over the few we have just doesn’t help that,” Grimaldi said.

Cammy Berg, a senior at Naperville North, said that she and her friends feel the same way, expressing her annoyance with the Driven vinyl covering the windows in the math hallway.

“I appreciate the message behind Driven, but I know me and my friends miss walking through the hallway upstairs that had all of the natural light. It was just too much too quickly,” Berg said. 

On top of the frustration surrounding the building’s lack of windows, many students think there is a bigger problem at hand. Returning to in-person learning this year has brought challenges both academically and socially for students. Some believe that the word “driven” might not be the best representation of the overall situation at school. Instead, they think that the administration should focus more on offering direct support to students. Kat Calic, a junior at North, expanded on this idea. 

 “This year, more than others, I know people that are struggling and don’t feel like they’re being addressed well by the school. We appreciate the effort, but decorations simply aren’t the solution,” Calic said.

With the given situation of returning to a normal school year, creating more change can be overwhelming.  Doria Reichardt, a junior at North, described the impacts of the rebranding for this year in particular. 

“I think in a normal year, students would be much more excited about the new branding. But students really need to be shown they are cared about this year,” Reichardt said.

Adjusting back to in-person learning was challenging for students at North, and some students have noticed a lack of communication between administration and students in this critical year.  The frustration comes after the district also implemented a new homeroom schedule with virtually no student input. 

“What students are really looking for is communication and an opportunity to give our input in some of these things,” Reichardt said.