Talks at District Level of Mascot Alignment at Feeder Schools


On Feb. 7, the school board began a session discussing the changing of the mascots at feeder schools. In an attempt to maintain unity across the district, this initiative works to maintain the same mascot for each senior high school. Uniform alignment will occur during the 2023-24 school year. For example, all feeder schools into Plano West would be the Wolves, for Plano Senior, it would be the Wildcats, and for Plano East, it would be the Panthers.

I’m excited about the alignment of the feeder high schools’ mascots to fit with Plano East,” Williams High School principal Jill Engelking said. “I believe this will begin a new tradition that will lead to increased unity and school spirit on the East side.”

Although the initiative began in the 2018-2019 school year, further talks about this decision emerged this year. In the beginning, this conversation included implementing JV2 teams for sophomores and freshmen as a way to participate at the senior high schools. Aside from this, by furthering the initiative, the district hopes to solidify the bond between each school provided by money from existing annual budgets and with other projects from the November 2022 bond election.

“Now that everyone is under that Plano East [mascot] and you wear their jerseys, you have that pride, that Plano East pride,” varsity baseball player Connor Schlegel said. “Being able to say that you’re a Panther and that you represent Plano East even when you’re a freshman and a sophomore, it really makes you feel like you’re a part of that team.” 

This decision would mainly impact athletics, such as baseball, basketball, football and cheerleading. Although students from feeder schools are allowed to try out and participate on the senior high teams, this decision from the board opens up the conversation for the mascots to align completely across the athletic programs. 

“I think it’s a little hard because you still have the junior highs,” Schlegel said. “It’s not like you’re putting all of the students in one school. Especially for academics and band, you have a lot of kids that compete for Plano East that still go to a different school and it’s not fair to them to have to say that they’re not a Plano East Panther when they are.”

As a result, the district plans to strip the decorations and wall art of the previous mascot to promote the new, ‘unified’ one. This includes repainting the gym floors and updating any signs around the schools. This change will occur starting in the 2023-24 school year and continue on through the next three years. Although there are students that support this change, there are others who do not believe this will allow for further unification of Plano schools.

“There’s something special about having a different mascot at every different school you attend,” junior Kendall Ward said. “Growing up in the PISD school system and the East side, PESH is where we all end up so it’s something special waiting to be a panther. If the entire East side is panthers, I just don’t think there will be the same feeling of school pride.”

While this action does not plan to take place until this fall, these meetings spark the conversation for future generations for students at both feeder schools and senior highs.

“I believe that the decision to align mascots and school colors will have a huge positive impact on unity for athletics and fine arts,” Engelking said. “I am really looking forward to watching the changes and realizing the impact over the years.”