New mascot unleashed

First slide

After months of anticipation, discussion, essay submissions and votes, John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries announced its new mascot to a packed lunch room full of cheering students.

The selection - the Wolves - was revealed to students and faculty by Nashville Dominican Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, principal, in the cafeteria during lunch. She asked for a drum roll and then slowly unrolled the black banner with white lettering. Shouts of approval erupted after the "wo" in "Wolves" was exposed. At the same moment, some expressions of disappointment were also heard from students and faculty who had supported the other finalist, the Warriors.

How was the mascot for the new high school chosen? It was a lengthy process that began before the school was open. Sister Mary Jordan wanted the students and faculty to be involved in selecting the mascot, and she wanted it to be selected after the community knew more about itself.

"We'll know who we are, when we know who we are," she said in the early weeks of the school.

With the fourth quarter just around the corner, it was finally time to name a mascot. After receiving more than 38 essays from students, teachers and parents, the mascot selection committee narrowed the choices to six.

Presented to the student body in the gym early last month after the weekly school Mass, the six finalists were: Wolves, Warriors, Eagles, Sentinels, Greyhounds and Guardians.

As each name was unveiled, administrators and teachers read excerpts from the winning essays:

"The Christian symbol of the wolf is one of fearlessness, and Pope John Paul II often encouraged us to 'be not afraid!'" said Shawn McNulty, assistant principal for student life.

Mark St. Germain, director of athletics, continued reading: "Wolves are noble, fearless and courageous. They live in packs - in families - and stick together. We all want to lead our pack to victory - to the victory of being in eternity with Christ. Let's use the wolf as the example to be fearless leaders, protectors of family - particularly the most vulnerable, and noble defenders of what is good and true."

An equally compelling case was made for each of the other finalists. Having basically the same arguments, the Warriors and Sentinels were promoted similarly: "we need to be warriors for life and for what is right."

Guardians: "Because John Paul II is the guardian of faith and we need to be guardians of the truth."

Eagles: "Eagles fly high in the sky, and while grounded in reality, we should always be oriented toward the heavens."

Finally, the last mascot presented was the Greyhounds, for which the winning essays argued that, "greyhounds are full of life and the greyhound is on our crest, and a symbol of the Dominicans - the religious order that runs our school."

Each argument for a mascot choice was well thought out and presented with enthusiasm. After the assembly, students were invited to write comments for and against each mascot on the life-sized posters hung around the cafeteria.

The following week, a vote on the final six was held. The Wolves and the Warriors received the highest number of votes. After a few more days to think it over, a final vote was held among the students and faculty, and the winner was announced in late March.

For John Paul the Great students, teachers and families, there has never been any doubt about who they are or what the new school is supposed to be, but now when asked, "what's your mascot?" they can respond, "we finally know more about who we are. We are the Wolves."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2009