Mascot Madness

By Sophia Buckley-Clement Staff Writer

Sep 1, 2023

Slate Valley Unified to hold first 'Mascot Madness' competition

From left, Castleton Elementary School’s Carl Cougar, Benson Village School’s Blue Bear, Orwell Village School’s Wally Wildcat, Fair Haven Union Middle and High School’s Slater and Fair Haven Grade School’s Falcon pose together at Fair Haven Union Middle and High School on the first day of in-service recently. The mascots will face off in events that will be held throughout the year for the Slate Valley School District’s “Mascot Madness” competition.

Provided photo

FAIR HAVEN — Slate Valley Unified Union School District’s mascots won’t just be cheering on from the sidelines this year — they’ll be facing off in a game all their own.

The district announced in a Thursday Facebook post that, for the first time ever, it would be hosting a year-long “Mascot Madness” competition.

The mascots, which include Benson Village School’s Blue Bear, Orwell Village School’s Wally Wildcat, Castleton Elementary School’s Carl Cougar, Fair Haven Grade School’s Falcon and Fair Haven Union Middle and High School’s Slater, will battle it out in a series of competitive events over the course of the school year.

“We thought it would be a great way to increase student and staff morale and community engagement,” SVU Superintendent Brooke Olsen-Farrell said. “It’s just something fun and lighthearted to help us work on culture.”

SVU Communications and Marketing Coordinator Lisa Cacciatore said she pitched the idea to the district’s administration and principals last spring and received full support on the premise.

She added that the idea came from paying attention to her daughter’s college system, the State University of New York, and the Mascot Madness competition that it holds each March.

“It just dawned on me that it would be a fun thing to do district-wide, but also all year long,” Cacciatore said. “The schools want to be individual with their own mascots, but we were looking for a way to also feel connected as a district. … This is one way the schools can still root for their mascot, but (also) bring the district together.”

Olsen-Farrell said the district kicked off the competition by having people vote on the most creative profile for each mascot, which school principals drafted.

Despite Wally Wildcat’s need for naps, the Falcon’s many years of experience, Carl Cougar’s love of volunteering and Slater choosing the “Rocky” theme for an entrance song, Blue Bear’s confidence and love for reading secured the profile win for BVS.

The second challenge took place Aug. 25 during the district’s opening in-service day.

In front of a crowd of staff, mascots had to run to the center of the room, hula-hoop three times and cross the finish line.

BVS’s Blue Bear managed to beat out the competition and snag another win at the event.

FHUMHS Administrative Assistant Jacqueline Phillips, who stepped into the Slater costume on the first day of in-service to represent her school, said that she had a blast working alongside the other FHUMHS students who volunteered to battle it out.

“It was fun, exciting and a little sweaty,” Phillips said with a chuckle. “But I live and breathe this place. … I believe that this starts off our school year in a hugely positive direction. School spirit is big in Fair Haven.”

According to Olsen, different students and staff members will assume the mascots’ identities throughout the year. She added that part of the fun so far has been guessing who is in each costume.

Cacciatore said she is hopeful that Mascot Madness will hold at least one competition a month, keeping score as the year continues.

She added that a winner will be crowned at the end of the year and their school will be awarded a trophy for the achievement.

A video sharing the mascot’s biographies and Blue Bear’s landslide win on in-service day can be viewed at online.

“It’s been very well received,” Cacciatore said. “We’ll see as the year goes on. Hopefully the enthusiasm will continue and just grow.”