It’s not often that second graders get to make major decisions at a school, but at The Fay School (TX), this group of students laid the groundwork for deciding the 30-year-old school’s very first mascot.
As part of the second grade curriculum, the school partnered with the Houston Zoo’s Mascots for Wildlife program. Students met with the zoo’s animal specialists this past fall via Zoom to learn about native species in Houston, particularly in the forest and bayou on their campus. Over the second quarter of the school year, they became Texas-native animal experts by reading, researching, writing, and presenting about what actions they could take to care for their animal neighbors.
To guide their research, they asked questions such as, “What kind of habitat do these animals live in?” “What do the animals spend their time doing?” “What do they eat?” All 27 students picked animals, including raccoons, snakes, and bats, to study using school library books. As they learned more about the animals that roam in the same places where they play at recess, they developed greater concern for their well-being and awareness about keeping those areas clean, picking up trash that washes in when the bayou floods.
They wrote reports about their chosen animals—some of them picked the same one—shared the reports with one another, and then voted to narrow the list of 10 potential mascots to three: alligator, coyote, and armadillo. Using a stop-motion animation program in STEAM class, the students worked together to direct and publish informative video clips about these three animals to share with the rest of the school. Everyone in the school could vote on their favorite animal at the end of the semester.
At an all-school assembly in January, the school celebrated its 30th anniversary with a giant birthday cake, from which the dean of students jumped out dressed as an alligator, the new mascot. “Throughout its life an alligator never stops growing. The same is true for our students’ emotional intelligence and leadership skills, especially while they are at Fay," says Morgan Scoville, head of school. "I think that’s what really resonated with each child when they proudly cast their vote.”
Students celebrate the unveiling of The Fay School’s new mascot.
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