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Hannaford student crafts logo for End of Life Services

MIDDLEBURY — Aiden Cole is only 15, but the budding graphic artist’s work is already drawing rave reviews. And one of his most recent designs will soon become the permanent logo of an organization that provides comfort to those in the last stages of life.
Cole is the winner of a recent challenge issued to students in Lisa Rader’s Graphic Design class at the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center: Create a logo for End of Life Services Inc., a Middlebury nonprofit that delivers comprehensive care to terminally ill patients in Addison County.
This wasn’t the first time local nonprofits and businesses had passed along an assignment to Rader’s students. They know they can get a high-quality product while at the same time give real-world experience to those learning the craft. The students have designed posters, logos and other creative work for such organizations as Habitat for Humanity of Addison County, Festival on-the-Green, Addison Respite Care Home (ARCH), and Neat Repeats.
“We’re always happy to work with people in our community,” Rader said, adding she’s had a particularly talented group of pupils this year.
End of Life Services Executive Director Cynthia Jones approached Rader a few months ago asking if she’d be willing to have her young charges design a logo for her organization. Jones and her colleagues had been impressed with the result of the ARCH logo assignment and were confident in the students’ abilities.
“We wanted to give them another opportunity,” Jones said.
It was a more difficult assignment than one might imagine.
The young participants dutifully researched End of Life Services’ mission and imagined symbols and colors they believed best expressed that research. They made sure to review other end-of-life organizations’ logos to make sure they weren’t repeating what had already been done. 
Under Rader’s guidance, students spent around three weeks refining their respective logos. Ultimately, the End of Life Services board received 18 different logo designs from which to choose.
Board members picked four “finalist” renderings from the 18. The artists were invited to tweak their designs, which culminated in Cole’s logo being picked as the winner.
Jones said the board liked the simplicity, color scheme and symbolism of Cole’s design: Deep blue water fronting a verdant mountain range, with warm, orange-and-red-hued sunrise and sunset splashes in the background.
“It looks like a logo that will endure,” Rader said. “It doesn’t look trendy or antiquated. It looks modern but accessible, and clean. I think it realy communicates so much of what the client was looking for.”
Cole’s color logo, and a light-gray version, each bear the name of the organization under the design. It will appear on a new End of Life Services sign at its Marble Works headquarters, as well as on virtually all the nonprofits’ printed material and a website now under construction.
“We really liked the sunrise-sunset image, where it could be either, because that is the end of life; people tend to think of (death) as a beginning or an ending,” Jones explained. “We liked the foundation of the mountains, because it is Vermont. But a lot if it was the simplicity of the design. We wanted to have a logo that was distinctive and simple enough that when people saw it … they’d recognize it as ‘End of Life Services.’”
Other finalists’ designs, while also great, were a little too detailed or not enough, according to Jones.
“Aiden’s had a very good balance of the whole composition,” she said.
Rader echoed Jones’ praise and noted the youth’s professionalism through the creative process. His initial rendering depicted two hands coming together — a concept that eventually morphed into the mountain range, following constructive feedback.
She also credited Cole for the work that laypeople won’t see when they get a glimpse of the logo — the hours Cole, like his classmates, spent improving their respective designs.
“It’s such a strong, solid design and the work of a designer so much leads up to this point that goes unseen,” Rader said.
Cole, a Weybridge resident and sophomore at Middlebury Union High School, said the unseen work included brainstorming with classmates on words that best describe hospice care.
“We came across a few key words, like ‘caring’ and ‘peaceful’ and the idea of a great environment to be in,” Cole said. “I thought about how sunrises and sunsets were really peaceful and beautiful.”
Cole is pleased and grateful to have produced the winning logo. It will inspire him and bolster his resumé as he considers a career in art and design.
“It feels great,” Cole said, “to think that something I made will be on a bunch of different (End of Life Services) things. It’s an awesome thing to experience.”
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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