Floral Park High School’s mascot, the Knight, showed off its brand new suit of plush armor at the school’s homecoming pep rally on Friday, making one teacher’s seemingly impossible dream come true.
The mascot makeover was the brainchild of Floral Park High School English teacher Christin Mason, who also took on the role of student activities adviser at the beginning of the 2013 school year. One of Mason’s first and most ambitious projects was to revamp the school mascot’s image, trading in its plainclothes Halloween costume apparel with something more authentic and professional.
“I’m huge on school spirit, and I felt that having a real mascot would bring more pep to the school,” Mason said. “We didn’t really have one until now.”
The costume, however, was expensive — totaling around $6,700 for the customized outfit with original designs by Floral Park junior Emilie Guilliod. Mason rallied a troop of student leaders, PTA members and the school district to support the project. Money was raised through fundraisers and personal donations to the booster club for the purchase.
“I wasn’t going to take no for an answer,” Mason said. “I just kept pitching the idea, and people really began to fall in love with it.”
Floral Park High School students Thomas Kenna, Grace Lopez and Syed Ali were also recruited to wear the costume and perform alongside the cheerleading team during football games.
Lopez debuted the costume Friday at the homecoming pep rally. Guilliod, the designer, was also recognized with an award at the pep rally introductions, despite being unable to attend the festivities due to illness.
“It’s so much better than the old costume, more sturdy and solid,” Kenna, a junior said. “I think this project is just part of the larger changes [she] is trying to make as adviser.”
Aside from the mascot, Mason also organized a homecoming carnival, which will be held before the game Saturday. The school will also debut their first grand marshal, former Floral Park assistant principal Stan Johnson, a Floral Park figurehead who worked his way through the ranks of custodial worker, teacher and finally administration over a 26-year period.
“We call him Mr. Floral Park around here,” Mason said. “There isn’t anything he doesn’t know about this school.”
For Floral Park Principal Kathleen Sottile, all the new changes have been a great success so far.
“Christin is so involved, a caring teacher who makes sure she knows all the students by name, and their families,“ Sottile said. “Whatever you see here today is a result of her energy and passion for school spirit.”