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Elementary, middle and high schools each sport costumed icons designed to raise school spirit, pride

COURTESY PHOTO: GERVAIS SCHOOL DISTRICT - From left, the Gervais Middle School Wolverine, Gervais High School Cougar and Gervais Elementary School Bee will represent the Gervais School District at a variety of school and public events going forward.The University of Oregon has its iconic costumed duck dressed in a green and gold shirt, kerchief, and sailor's cap. Oregon State University features Benny Beaver, the sporty bucktoothed mammal in orange and black athletic wear.

An hour up the road, the Gervais School District is joining the mascot game as well, after members of the high school leadership team unveiled not one, but three new mascots to students before the winter break.

Coming into the school year, Gervais High School already had its own physical mascot — the tan and white cougar that had roamed sidelines for more than three decades at football games, basketball contests, and school spirit activities.

But while the nearby middle and elementary schools had their representative mascots, the Wolverine and Bee, respectively, neither institution had a costume of their own to match.

Before the start of the 2019-20 school year, administrators at Gervais thought it would be a fun way to generate school pride and spirit by giving all of its schools a representative mascot of their own. After the school district consolidated to one campus earlier in the decade, administrators were looking for ways to help solidify the student body as well, bringing them together as one community rather than separate places.

"As an administrative team, we all kind of agreed that one thing that would benefit the district immensely is if we tried to bridge the gap between our individual schools," Gervais High School Assistant Principal Andrew Aman said. "Try to be more united as a district and not in our individual silos as Gervais Elementary School, Gervais Middle School and Gervais High School."

Thus the mascots were born.

While the high school had its mascot, 30 years of use at the hands of hundreds of students and faculty members had taken its toll. It was time to hang up the Cougar, and students bid farewell to its long-lived mascot at halftime of the homecoming football game in October, sending it off into retirement while ushering in the new Cougar.

COURTESY PHOTO: GERVAIS SCHOOL DISTRICT - The three mascots were unveiled to students in December and are designed to help tie the three nearby schools together and help foster school spirit and pride amongst its student body.Two months later, the GHS leadership class took the new Cougar to the Gervais Middle School and introduced its new costumed avatar — the Wolverine. Together, the two mascots then made an appearance at a Gervais Elementary School assembly, where the Bee was unveiled.

"It's really just about the idea of us all trying to be more united as a district and not so much in our own individual buildings," Aman said. "We really want to try to work on the student body having Gervais pride, pride in their school and Gervais School District in general."

The names have yet to be determined. Like the University of Oregon's Duck, the Cougar, the Wolverine and the Bee are simply known by their namesake animal, though that could change in the future, depending on which routes the schools take.

"I heard rumors that they were going to let the kids vote on what the names are going to be," Aman said. "Nothing has been finalized yet."

The mascots are a lighthearted way for the schools to engage the student body and give physical form to the school spirit they hope to encourage from Kindergarten through graduation.

Similar to other mascots, the three Gervais animals will be present at a variety of engagements throughout the year, not just at sporting events, but anywhere Gervais school spirit would be a welcome addition.

"We could have the mascots at school board meetings, community events the preschool and the daycare," Aman said. "The sky's the limit on how we can utilize the mascots as best as we can."

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