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(Rick Hickman / American Press)

(Rick Hickman / American Press)

Sowela announces first mascot (WITH VIDEO)

Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 6:44 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Sowela’s first mascot is the “Flying Tigers” — a salute to the World War II flying squadron led by Lt. Gen. Claire Chennault, officials announced Wednesday.

Chennault International Airport, adjacent to Sowela, is named in Chennault’s honor.

The name was chosen by a community-wide penny war, with more than 90,000 votes cast during the fall semester, Sowela spokesman Brett Downer said.

The final decision was between Flying Tigers and Aviators. The mascot names came from an on-campus focus group.

People could vote by putting money in change jars, by writing checks and even by making online donations, Downer said.

The winning mascot was revealed at a news conference Wednesday.

The Flying Tigers received 52,163 votes, or 58 percent of the vote, and the Aviators received 38,172 votes, or 42 percent, Downer said.

“Having a mascot will build campus spirit among students, forge a more personal connection with the community, and make a vibrant statement in our area, state and region about Sowela’s energy, momentum and growth,” said Chancellor Neil Aspinwall, who hosted the event.

“The main mascot is the airplane itself — a retro-style version of the planes flown during Chennault’s heroic wartime efforts,” Downer said. “The ‘Tiger head’ mascot is intended for the use by competitive collegiate sports teams as they are introduced in the year ahead.”

Both versions will appear in advertising, apparel, promotional materials and signage.

Mascot designs are by Erik Jessen, a member of Sowela’s graphic arts faculty, and graphic artist Blake Hebert, a Sowela alumnus.

The ceremony also featured students modeling T-shirts, polo shirts and other apparel and banners with the new mascots.

Downer said Wednesday’s news conference was the first of a yearlong schedule of activities at Sowela to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of career and technical education in Southwest Louisiana.

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