Make Way for Mascots!
Quest Forward Academy students on both Omaha and Santa Rosa campuses put a major decision to a vote this year: What mascots would best represent their communities? Mentors Jennifer Dalbey (Omaha) and Nils Palsson (Santa Rosa) share the student-driven origin stories of The Swarm and The Quetzals.
Hive Pride: Omaha Buzzes Around a New Mascot
By Jennifer Dalbey, Quest Forward Academy Omaha
The images that come to mind when we imagine a typical high school experience are: noisy, crowded hallways; groups chatting by the lockers; pranks by the class clown; and cheering at games and pep rallies. Good or bad, high school wasn’t just something we all remember; it was something we experienced.
Because Quest Forward Academy Omaha is a new school that functions differently from more traditional schools, we wanted to shape an identity that reflects our unique experience. Our students began talking about how they wanted something to rally under that was more than the school’s official name. Instead of simply creating random T-shirts with various graphics, we wanted something connected to who we are and what we do that is special or different. We needed to get creative. Thus began the mascot competition process.
English Mentor Ed Vogel, along with the Student Council, challenged our students to come up with a mascot that represents our school and asked them to draw their version of what that mascot should look like. Students submitted both a drawing and a piece of writing that explained why their chosen mascot represents Quest Forward Academy Omaha. Submissions included dogs, frogs, knights, and bees. Bees won by popular vote, as they are, like us, workers.
However, the Quest Forward Bees just didn’t quite work; we didn’t view ourselves as drones, queens, or potential killers.
Our mentors’ tenacity in collaborating and solving problems gave them the idea that they swarmed over problems and hovered in order to answer any questions.The mentors brought this to the Student Council, who embraced The Swarm. The Council held a school-wide vote between The Bees and The Swarm, and The Swarm was born. At Quest Forward Academy Omaha, we swarm: We tackle problems collectively, we are all part of a bigger picture and play our individual roles within it. We are interconnected, we stick together, we support one another, and we value each person’s contributions. We are industrious. #SWARMUP
Quetz-WHO? Santa Rosa’s Search for the Perfect Mascot
By Nils Palsson, Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa
During the 2018-19 school year, the second-ever year of Quest Forward Academy in Santa Rosa, our high school community grew in some tremendous ways. We held our first Club Fair and organized a number of student organizations; we published our first real yearbook; we developed a student leadership program complete with student body elections; and we came up with our very own mascot in a crowd-sourced competition spanning several months.
The result? Say hello to the Quetzals!
The contest to determine our “official-unofficial mascot” was held by our newly formed Student Council. In November 2018, just days after the US Midterm Elections, student body elections were held. Along with student leadership candidates, mascot candidates submitted by the students themselves, were on the ballot. Proposed mascots included lizards, fighting zebras, angry bears, the western pond turtle, the axolotl, and for the alliteratively inclined, the quokka, and the quetzal. (If you need to pause here to google any of these, one could hardly blame you.)
After the top two candidates—the lizard and the quetzal—faced off a few weeks later, the quetzal prevailed. Pronounced “ket-SAL” (but fun to mispronounce as KWET-sul), the quetzal is a beautiful, rainbow-plumed member of the trogon family, a tropical avian that is also the national bird of Guatemala.
Now it is the mascot of Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa.
After the quetzal was chosen, the Student Council held another contest to determine what it would look like. The winning image, designed by sophomore student Emily, appears in our school colors of blue/gray/gold (rather than the mostly green/rainbow colors of the wild quetzal). Emily’s design is now featured on school merchandise and the first page of our 2018-2019 yearbook. Some of the runners-up (also pictured below) appear on posters around campus and throughout the yearbook.
Throughout the process of identifying the quetzal as our mascot, coming up with graphic representations of the creature, and incorporating the imagery into our yearbooks and school merchandise, we’ve built a community identity. Some of us are mentors, some students; some of us are Foundation Phase, some Exploration. But here at Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa, we are all Quetzals.
Check out other student designs for The Quetzal mascot
Emily Russin is an Editorial Consultant at Opportunity Education, editing and numerous OE publications and articles. With more than 20 years of experience editing and writing for print and online publications, Emily also works as a freelance manuscript consultant and writer in Seattle, Washington.
Jennifer Dalbey is a former Mentor Coach and an English and Social Sciences mentor at Quest Forward Academy Omaha.
Nils Palsson is the Pathways Coordinator at Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa. He formerly served as a Social Sciences Mentor, Mentor Coach, facilitator of the City as Campus at the Academy. Nils joined the Quest Forward Academy team in 2018 and loves Quest Forward’s agile and individualized approach to education.