THE FOLLOWING WAS RECEIVED FROM ZACH JUNG (TEACHER at WHS)
I am writing to you today with the hopes of adding a mascot program to Wapakoneta High School. As a former high school and collegiate mascot myself, I firmly believe that spirit programs are paramount to building a strong sense of community that is grounded in passion, energy, and inspiration. Additionally, instilling a mascot program provides student leaders with the opportunity to serve their community and school in a unique and meaningful manner.
Although I am only in the midst of my second year at WHS, it is evident that Wapakoneta High School is an institution that works to showcase its pride and spirit through various platforms such as student sections, pep rallies, marching the halls, etc. With that being said, I firmly believe that our building has the ability to create a monumental movement within our school spirit through the introduction of mascots. The mascots would have the power to emerge as the face of the pride, joy, and spirit showcased through the other platforms outlined above. Wapakoneta High School has the potential to emerge as a progressive school amongst its competitors by bringing a missing part of the puzzle to the morale already established.
In fact, research has shown that mascot programs bring several benefits to schools and the community:
Mascots increase spirit awareness.
Mascots create a positive image.
Mascots bring personality and entertainment.
Mascots improve student and employee morale.
Mascots build unity.
Although the points outlined above only skim the surface of the benefits that can be reaped from a mascot program, each piece of research and personal anecdote of my own highlight the positive benefits a mascot program can have on various elements. If done well and effectively, the introduction of a mascot program at Wapakoneta High School has the opportunity to begin a legacy that has not been seen in our halls thus far.
With all that in mind, I have worked to create a vision for the future mascots of WHS. Ideally, we will have a male and female mascot that will be dressed in Wapakoneta spirit wear highlighting our school’s colors and logo. Four students will be selected to take on these roles (2 males and 2 females) with recommendations coming from the faculty and staff of WHS. Seeing that the intended program is meant to enhance, not only school spirit, but also student initiative, I am looking to offer the opportunity to 10th-12th grade students.
After interviews/tryouts have been completed, the selected individuals will be sworn to secrecy. The vision of this program is to provide four elite individuals with a unique and special opportunity to serve the school and community of Wapakoneta without the need of recognition or fame. That being said, the oath of secrecy goes beyond mystery and entertainment, but instead, expands into the ideals of servant leadership. Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of principles that enriches the lives of individuals--a framework for the mascot program here at WHS.
Once selected, students will be asked to attend a plethora of school and community events throughout the academic year ranging from sporting events to theatrical productions and even downtown festivities. While attending these occasions, the mascots will work to build relationships, encourage the heart, spread positivity, and illustrate what it truly means to be a Wapakoneta Redskin. This mindset and experience directly reinforces the district’s vision of providing our students, but more specifically our student leaders in this case, with excellent learning experiences inside and outside of the classroom. It is the hope that the students who take on these roles will learn from each other, the program, and the overall experience.
In fact, I have taken the liberty to create the pillars of spirit in which the selected individuals will be asked to uphold and showcase in and out of the costume. These four pillars will work as the foundation of the emerging tradition, while holding the members of the program to high standards. The pillars are as follows:
Combined, these four pillars will work to craft and mold student leaders who have a solid understanding of the importance the role of spirit and its leadership components play in and out of the classroom. Although their time as the mascot would be limited to one year, the hope is that they are able to take the skills, memories, experiences, and pillars of spirit with them even beyond their high school years.
At the end of the academic year, my hope is to hold a mascot reveal at the final home basketball game of the season providing the four individuals with the opportunity to share their secret with students, family, and the community. The students will then receive some token of appreciation and/or memorabilia highlighting the fundamental efforts and talents they brought during their time as the school mascots. Although the main purpose of the program is to avoid formal recognition/fame, I do feel it is important and valuable to present the selected individuals with the chance to receive appreciation for all they have done to build relationships between our school and the community, while embodying the true values of a Wapakoneta Redskin.
In conclusion, I firmly believe that the introduction of a mascot program at Wapakoneta High School will allow students to step outside of their comfort zones, challenge themselves, and enhance positive connections between multiple parties. As educators, I feel it is our mission to provide students with opportunities that allow them to grow as both students and individuals, and have no doubt that a mascot program will do just this. Please note that I understand the amount of time, planning, and decision-making that goes into this process, but I hope that you will consider this proposal and exciting new experience for our students, school, and community. I thank you in advance for your time and consideration and will leave you with these final words--a motto I hope to instill in the future mascot recipients of WHS:
“The character you possess is greater than the character you play.”