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Student panel recommends Jaguars for Johnson High

Moe and Gene Johnson High could take on a spotted look when it opens in 2019.

On Monday, Hays CISD’s Student Advisory Panel (SAP) recommended the Jaguars as the MoeJo High mascot, along with the color scheme of black and gold. The recommendation will now go before the Hays CISD Board of Trustees April 23 for adoption.

The unveiling capped off eight months of work for the SAP, which included students in the 10th-12th grade from Lehman High, Hays High and the Live Oak Academy. Students who are part of the SAP apply and then are selected by the student body as a representative to the panel, which was tasked with creating the process for mascot selection.

That process began in October when the SAP allowed the community to nominate mascot and color options for MoeJo High, which is located on FM 967 near Buda. The SAP reviewed the nominations and named five mascots – Jaguars, Cardinals, Broncos, Nighthawks and Dachshunds – as well as color schemes to the next round.

“We really wanted public buy-in and as many ideas and opinions as possible,” said Lehman High junior Ashley Rosendo.

Mascot and color selection was then placed into the hands of Hays CISD secondary school students, who voted on the final options. Rosendo said the SAP not only wanted input from those who might attend the campus, but from all middle and high school students “because this decision would affect them most.”

Results showed 35 percent of the 1,090 students who participated in the survey selected the Jaguars as the mascot. More than 50 percent of students who voted for the Jaguar mascot opted for the black and gold color scheme.

A slide from Hays CISD’s Student Advisory Panel shows results of a vote taken by district secondary school students for the new mascot at Johnson High. (Image courtesy of Hays CISD)

Sierra Merritt, Lehman High junior and a member of the SAP, said the results were not a surprise and that it was “what I expected how things would play out from the beginning.”

“It was a reflection of what the students thought, as well as a general public,” Martin said.

Lehman High senior Joshua Torres-Whitmer, also a member of the SAP, said he was surprised Dachshunds came in with the second highest vote total.

“I was adamantly against it (Dachshunds),” Torres-Whitmer said. “But 100 or so people liked it, so I guess there was something to it.”

Releasing the results lifted a weight off the shoulders of SAP members, who for several months were “operating in the shadow,” Torres-Whitmer said.

The group also worked through a variety of opinions cast by the community through social media. Martin said it wasn’t difficult to block out the commentary as the SAP had staff and adults “standing up for us” and shielding them.

“As much public backlash that we got, we also had support from other people,” Torres-Whitmer said. “It wasn’t like we were just being attacked, we were also being defended. With any organization, every decision you make, you could have that backlash from the public. It’s expected and you prepare for it.”

But for Lehman High junior Matthew Nino, a sense of accomplishment followed the recommendation announcement.

Nino said it’s an “honor” to be the voice for students on this and many other important topics.

Other issues taken up by the SAP include discussions on campus safety, the new Hays CISD elementary attendance zones, as well as the search for the new superintendent.

Nino said he hopes future students participate in the panel in order to contribute opinions toward topics that affect students.

“I want the power of this group to be known … for people to know the student body is a powerful voice,” Nino said. “School is about the students and if they don’t get their voice heard, it doesn’t matter.”

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