Pekin District 303 is shaking things up for the future, and it’s not all about renovations and technology.

The district this year is changing its vision, mission and motto, said Superintendent Danielle Owens. The student achievement committee and others worked on the vision and the mission statements last year. The precursor to the new statements was to better market the district and inform the public about its work. 

“So it started with the mission and the vision, and then, as we were doing those, we thought it was about time we change our motto,” said Owens. “I think then we talked about better marketing ourselves.

“I thought it was time for our staff — because it had been (so long) since we did the mission and vision — I just felt like we needed a chance to redo it and get some rejuvenation.”

The new motto is, “The opportunity is here. The fire is within.” It is displayed above and below the dragon in various areas of the school.

The school had a competition where students and staff submitted potential mottos. Lisa Stolz, Response to Intervention coordinator, won. The motto was kept secret until the staff came to work Wednesday. Deverman Advertising reworked the Dragon logo and the new mission, vision and motto are encircled by it.

The former motto was, ‘Pekin High School — where we do many things and do them well,’” said Owens. “It has been our tag line for several years.” 

The new vision is, “Pekin Community High School provides a safe and engaging environment with passionate educators who support student growth through a wealth of opportunities.”

The PCHS mission is now, “In partnership with the community, we engage, prepare and empower our students for a lifetime of success through diverse opportunities.”

The former mission statement was, “Pekin Community High School District No. 303 is committed to preparing all students to become responsible, productive and enlightened citizens who can meet the challenges of a changing society by engaging them in a high-quality, diverse, and contemporary learning environment which maximizes the talents of students, staff, families and the community.” 

Owens said it was interesting to follow the conversations of the student achievement committee “because we talked about at the start of the year that we really needed to do a better job marketing ourselves. There are so many positive things to say, but as we were talking about it — what is important to us? At the end of the day, why do we do what we do?”

Owens said the idea is to “remind ourselves of why we’re here and what we do well and then use it to push us to promote ourselves better.”

Marketing the district has taken on new meaning over the past several years, said Owens.

“In this day and age, schools, especially public education, is consistently under fire from outside entities — I think from our own state,” said Owens. “I think we have a very supportive community.

“I think the issue is our community is getting older. It has been a long time since they’ve had students in the school. We see each year the number of changes that happen in this building, but if they don’t have kids or grandkids here and they’re not in here, their vision of what education looks like is probably very, very different from what we are doing here. I just think it’s important for us to continue to flood our community with (information) and I think they have a right to know what great things are happening here.”

Owens said schools are “more and more put in a position where we have to” do marketing, “not to validate our existence because we’re always going to have kids; it isn’t supply and demand, but in the same token when you talk about a community like Pekin and people talk about whether people want to move here, why they want to move here or not want to move here, schools play a big part of that. There’s no reason someone should move to Pekin because of our schools. I think they should move here solely because of our schools.”

Too much time, said Owens, is spent focusing on “a single test score or what our free and reduced lunch rate is, whatever the case may be.”

Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin