Wildcat head builds spirit

Shannon Tierney, Editor-In-Chief

The head of the school’s mascot, Willy the Wildcat, has started making its way through different classrooms.
Starting with Principal Dave Stephens, from English and Mathematics all the way to the Health classrooms, Willy has made several rounds and does not appear to be stopping any time soon.
“I felt honored. I got to be the first person with the Wildcat head. The main thing was our school improvement team came together and thought it would be a neat thing to pass on to everybody and kind of say what it means to be a wildcat. For me it’s tradition because after being here 31 years that’s what I believe,” Dave Stephens, principal said.
Each year, the district has schools create two goals for the building, and this year the main focus was to create a positive climate for students and staff. The school improvement team focuses on three main groups: the physical state of the building; student buy-in; and facility buy-in, which is where the Wildcat head comes in.
“We pick a theme each year and this year, our theme is ‘Be A Wildcat’ and what goes along with that are all of the words you see on the bulletin boards around the school like ‘be positive.’ The Wildcat head was one of the ideas that went along with that theme,” Jamie Soliman, assistant principal, said.
The staff member who recieves the Wildcat head keeps it in their classroom for two to three days and while they have it, they can use it somehow in their class. Whether it be talking to the students about what it means to be a Wildcat or how they are a Wildcat, it is up to the teacher what sort of things they do.
“The idea was to have that representation of what it is to be a Wildcat passed from one colleague to the next, as a sign of respect and acknowledgment,” Karin Walker, English teacher, who was the second person to receive the Wildcat head, said.
After a few days, the staff member who had the head has to nominate someone they believe is a Wildcat based off their personality and involvement.
But there are rules: staff members are unable to give the wildcat head to someone who is in the same hallway or in the same department as they are.Part of the experience is having a chance to talk to someone whom they normally would not have the chance to see or talk to all that often.
The Wildcat head is meant to depict what being a wildcat is to each staff member who receives the head.
”For me, being a wildcat means taking a lot of pride in what you do. I love working here, I love physical education and health, and I take great pride in that. It also, to me, means taking part in something much bigger than yourself,” John Prieboy, P.E. and health teacher, said.
Many staff members view the faculty as a team, and having the Wildcat head passed is a sign of recognition, and a way to let the staff know that they are appreciated.
“Everyone in this building is extremely enthusiastic, and this is sort of a visual representation of that enthusiasm because you might not always see that enthusiasm in the classroom. It’s just a way that we, as a team here at Central, thought it would be cool to let each other know that we’re doing an awesome job,” Prieboy said.
School spirit is an important aspect of school to many students and staff alike, and the Wildcat head is a way to increase that spirit and show that having spirit is nothing to be ashamed of.
“I always like to try and get into the homecoming days and get the kids into the days and tell them ‘hey its ok to get into it’ and I think that enthusiasm is one of the reasons I think I got selected to have the head,” Ryan Wilhelmi, science and special education teacher, said.
This tradition will be continued throughout the rest of the year and it is hoped that it will also be continued next year if it catches on.