Mohip connects with community through mascots
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By Amanda Tonoli
Youngstown City Schools CEO Krish Mohip saw one of the biggest turnouts during his leadership of the district as more than 100 people filed into the East High School cafeteria to discuss assigning new mascots to schools.
“I was surprised coming into this district at how much I heard about mascots,” he said. “It’s great. I want to help connect people here to the tradition of Youngstown. ... I’ve been looking at ways to bring back a sense of community, and if changing or keeping a mascot does it, so be it.”
New East Principal Sonya Gordon said she was impressed with the turnout.
“It’s refreshing to see how many people care,” she said. “This is all about bringing back the culture of East High.”
Although Gordon is a 1991 East graduate and a former Golden Bear, she said her opinion will remain neutral as far as the school mascot goes.
Of the two meetings at East and Chaney Campus, almost all attendees who came to East were dressed in matching blue and gold gear, representing the Golden Bears.
The Golden Bear was the former mascot name of East High – the current mascot is the Panther – before its new building opened in 2007.
Debra Jones, a 1971 East High graduate, attended the meeting, ready to support a return to the Golden Bears name. She was decked out in blue and gold Golden Bears gear, giving her a flashback to the past.
“I’m glad someone is finally taking the initiative to get our blue and gold back,” she said. “Once a Bear, always a Bear.”
District Athletic Director Rick Shepas gave a preview as to how athletics would break down for the district.
“Right now, East’s football is Division II, and all other [East] sports are Division I,” he said. “As we bring Chaney back, the 500 sports-eligible students will be cut in half, making us Division IV or V. We will be very strategic about how we do this.”
In addition to pumping up the crowd with talk of mascots and sports, Mohip used his opportunity to invite community feedback of his leadership and the district’s progress.
He distributed surveys asking for the successes and failures of the 2016-17 school year.
“We can’t snap our fingers and bring this district back to the success that it once was, but I’ve invested in the leadership to make that happen,” he said.
Toward the end of the survey, Mohip reintroduced the talk of mascots with a suggestion of assigning East High the Golden Bears mascot and Chaney the Cowboys. Elementary schools that feed East will be the Golden Cubs, and Chaney’s will be the Little Cowboys.
No final decision has been made on either mascot name.