Middle school mascots are the subject of an article in today’s Dallas Morning News. Once primarily a pursuit of high school and college students, cheering as a mascot is growing in popularity among the junior high crowd, especially as more universities offer scholarships for their mascots.

In RISD, high school mascots are considered part of the cheerleading squad, and they attend summer cheer camp and competitions with the team. They are included on the posters and in photos with the cheerleaders, and they attend parties, dances, and other events with the squad. But we’re moving in the opposite direction as Grapevine – the RISD recently discontinued its junior high mascot program. The fuzzy horses and wildcats have been put in storage. RISD officials blame lack of interest, but in Lake Highlands there was never a shortage of candidates. My own daughter tried out to be the Freshman Center mascot in 2001 against two other outstanding girls. That year, they opted to have two mascots, and she enjoyed the experience very much. In addition to football and basketball games, they cheered at elementary pep rallies, neighborhood events, fundraising picnics, and the Exchange Club parade. They learned techniques in dealing with young children, such as walking the fine line between bringing them delight and scaring them to death. I hope the trend to bring mascots to middle schools will spread back to RISD. It’s time to bring the mascots out of mothballs.