MYSTIC — Holding the unveiling ceremony for Stonington Middle School’s mascot at the Mystic Aquarium was a big hint the choice would be something aquatic.
After months of anticipation and speculation, the stingray was revealed as the mascot choice for the middle school, which will consolidate Mystic Middle School and Pawcatuck Middle School in the fall of 2019.
Before an applauding audience of students, parents, teachers and staff, middle school principals Tim Smith and Greg Keith unveiled mockups of a stingray logo in the new school’s colors, blue and gold.
Smith said the staff surveyed students at both middle schools and fourth-graders at both elementary schools.
Out of the 400 responses, the mascot names fell into three categories, he said.
The first category comprised animal names, such as the cubs, which related to Stonington High School’s mascot, the bear.
The second category comprised a portmanteau combining the two middle schools’ mascots, a cub and a panther, into a bearcat.
“One of the difficulties we had with this was that both Pawcatuck Middle School and Mystic Middle School had a long, proud history that we need to now honor but put aside and create a new 6, 7, 8 Stonington Middle School,” Smith said. “In Mystic they were the Cubs and their color was green, and at Pawcatuck Middle School they were the Panthers and their color was red.
“The color combinations of red and green just says Christmas to everybody, and we took a long look at graphic representations of bearcats ... I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one, but we didn’t think it was a good look,” he laughed.
The third group was the biggest, with a wide variety of shoreline or aquatic-themed things, everything from seagulls to all different kinds of fish and ocean creatures, he said.
But the staff wanted the mascot to represent something more, Smith said.
“Philosophically, we wanted to do something different, because while it is true that part of our mission in middle school is to prepare kids for high school, it’s not our sole mission,” he said. “Middle school is an age of exploration.”
The mascot needed to represent the district’s goal to connect the middle school curriculum to Stonington’s industries, history and culture.
“We wanted to do something educationally that would link kids with a stronger understanding of their community, whether that’s the fishing industry, the tidal estuaries, the rivers, the shoreline, and all things related to aquatics, tourism, the aquarium, the Seaport,” he said. “These are all assets that we want to link our curriculum to and take advantage of to give kids an understanding of how they relate to their community and their environment and how they can have an impact there.”
Overall, the student reaction to the stingray was positive.
Cormick Pettegrow, 8, who attends Deans Mill School, said the name was cool.
“Stingrays are just cool,” he said. “They have cool patterns and stuff.”
Danielle Garrett, 9, also a Deans Mill student, approved of the new mascot.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s very smooth and I like to touch them, and it’s a cool name.”
Cameron Borsher, 11, a student at Pawcatuck Middle School, said he was happy with the stingray as the choice of school mascot.
“I thought it was going to be the sharks, but I like the stingray,” he said.