Farmingdale High School sophomore Alayna Camisa saw homecoming day 2016 as a chance to finally give the school’s lion mascot an official identity.

“He deserves a name,” Alayna explained while sitting at a desk in the athletic office, dressed as the lion, “and he is a he, although I’m him, and I’m a she.”

The 15-year-old honor student is now in her second year wearing the mascot uniform at school events. She the only student to appear as the lion since she began taking on the role, and “Alayna is the only person to ever wear the lion costume as a freshman,” said principal Samuel M. Thompson. “She’s an amazing student, and thanks to her we’ll have an official name for the lion soon.”

Three weeks before homecoming, Alayna suggested to school officials that the lion needed a name, “and I wanted it to be announced at homecoming.”

She has earned the ear of teachers and administrators as a member of the student council who was chosen to represent Farmingdale High School’s student body as its speaker during the district’s Superintendent's Conference Day.

“I also wrote an article about the naming for the school paper,” said Alayna, a member of the newspaper staff, “and I found out that Farmingdale has used a lion as a mascot since the 1950s, and someone has worn the costume since the 1990s, but he never got a name. . .  We need to fix that.” (Read her article at http://bit.ly/2dI1q0m.)

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The school acquiesced, and her mascot alter ego will soon have a name that she can take all the way to her senior year.

“She’s going to be our lion until she graduates,” says Thompson. She's “sensational as the mascot.”

“I’m hoping I’ll be allowed to wear the lion feet when I walk during graduation,” Alayna adds with a laugh.

Friday, during both the pregame pep rally and the varsity football game against Uniondale, Alayna was on her feet welcoming presenters, dancing alongside cheerleaders, the kick line and dance team, moving to the marching band’s beat and waving to the crowd.

“She’s so wonderful,” says varsity cheerleading coach Rose Celentano, who has helped make sure Alayna is able to work in comfort by providing Band-Aids (to protect against nose scuffing by the lion head mask). As for keeping her cool under that heavy uniform, Celentano explains, “I ordered a plastic shoe rack online, cut it in half and made a vest out of it, and then we fill it with ice packs.”

“It works really well,” Alayna says.

Thompson said that the official name selection will be announced next week since the homecoming pep rally celebration ran long. But the choice has been whittled down to two finalists.

“It’s down to either Buddy, because he’s a friendly guy, or Dale, because we’re the Dalers,” Thompson said.

Alayna’s choice? “I say Dale, because it’s perfect,” she said. “I want to be called Dale because I’m proud to be a Daler.”