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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Logo Labor of Love Launches Kingsport Lad


"It makes me feel good, because I designed the logo for the school I'm going to."

17-year-old Octavious Logan of Kingsport has a bright future ahead of him.

He likes to draw, and recently in a contest to select the new logo for the renamed Cora Cox Academy, his was picked.

"I've always loved to doodle and sketch things," he says. "I had watched my older brother Kenny draw things when I was little, and I was like 'teach me to draw.' He told me 'I can't teach you drawing, you have to learn it for yourself. So then, I had to prove to myself that I had the talent. Back then, I didn't know if I did, so I just picked out a couple of things that I wanted to draw. I'd just look at it and have another piece of paper beside that one, and I'd just sketch it out."

"That's how I learned how to draw."

Cora Cox Academy principal Dr. Carolyn Kennedy was aware of Octavious' artistic talents, and felt he needed encouragement to develop his ability to draw into something more worthwhile.

"A good teacher has to be alert and watch for things in their students," she says. "They have to be able to spot development in a child and act on it as soon as they see it, in most cases without the child really noticing what you're doing. We noticed that Octavious had the ability to recreate onto paper what he was seeing in his mind."

When the announcement was made by the Kingsport Board of Education to change the name of the New Horizons Alternative School to the Cora Cox Academy last year, Dr. Kennedy decided a new school logo would be needed to display the school's new identity in a positive way. She says, she saw the opportunity, not only to see what Octavius was capable of, but to perhaps notice potential talent in other students.

"Many of our students have trouble adapting to change," she explained. "So, to sort of get our students through the name change, I decided to try and give them some ownership in the name-changing process. In May when I spoke to the student body, and gave them the opportunity to come up with suggestions for a logo. There were 13 different submissions from the students, and also one from a teacher, and we put them all on the bulletin board, to let the students decide which one they liked."

Octavious admits to not knowing anything about Cora Cox, but says she must have been a special teacher to have a school named after her.

"I started out on just a single piece of paper," he says. I started with a pen, doodling out the two 'C's, the 'A' and the pencil, but I couldn't get it right. I started thinking about it, and how it actually looked, and then switched to a pencil, and then it just came out."

Octavious' drawing won, hands down.

"He actually submitted two drawings," Dr. Kennedy remembers. "I think what everybody like about his entry is, it embodies our school purpose, which is graduation for all our students. I fuss at them constantly, that I expect to see them graduate. Our kids can now graduate with a full diploma here at Cora Cox, they don't have to go to Dobyns-Bennett to graduate. When you walk into my office, you see hanging on my door, is a cap and gown."

"What may have brought you here beforehand, how far you need to catch up... your goal is to walk that stage at graduation, and then to succeed beyond that point," she says.

"Our job as teachers is to help you get there."

The drawing by Octavious embodied that, and more.

"With it being 'the Cora Cox Academy,' says Dr. Kennedy, "his drawing had the 'A' in the center, and the two 'C's' on either side, and then the cap and gown. I think that made a difference, because the kids see that all the time, and it must have made an impression on their minds. We modified the image just a little bit, to give it more character."

"They kept the 'A' the same," Octavious says, "and they kept the cap in the same place, but changed the position of it. They also kept the string (the tassle) hanging off of the cap, and the two 'C's' are farther apart. The pencil is now coming through one of the 'C's' in front of the 'A' and they took the scribble off the pencil."

"Yeah, they changed it a little bit, but I'm still proud of it.'

He's not the only one.

Herman Lathers is Octavious' grandfather. He graduated Douglass High School at the Rosenwald building two blocks away in 1939, in the class with Charlie Canty, Kathleen Stafford, William Walton and Gallie Hendricks. They were the only five seniors that year.

Mr. Logan had not seen the logo that his grandson had drawn.

"My boy did that?" he asked, as we approached the new sign outside the school. "Well, I be dog. That is really wonderful. He told me about it, but I didn't think too much of it, 'cause I didn't understand what it was. He asked me about Cora Cox, and I what I remembered of her. He told me about this 'logo' thing again, and then you told me about it 2 minutes ago, and there it is."

"Isn't that something?" he beamed with pride. "I'm trying to keep him schooled, get him into history and into college somewhere. How 'bout that? He just might turn out to be something.. might make president of the United States."

Octavious has always been interested in drawing and music, "but my art expresses how I feel," he says. "I'm a loving character, I'm not hateful or anything, and that comes out in my artwork. I love God, I love to pray, I pray all or most of the time. God goes with me, everywhere I go."

He plans on attending college next year, and majoring in art.

"Mrs. (Donna) Ashby, the guidance counselor here at school, has been talking to me and trying to find some schools that would be good for me," he says. "One of them is the Art Institute of Atlanta and I have been chit-chatting with them. They want to wait until I get out, and I think I've got a foot in the door there. We also contacted MTSU (in Mufreesboro) just the other day."

"He's got such a bright future," says Dr. Kennedy. "We're proud of him and all of our students, and we expect big things from him. We expect the same from all of our students. Hopefully, they can look at Octavius and say, 'we can do it, too.'

"All of my artwork means something, everything I draw means something to me," Octavious says.

"It's telling something about me."