Last Modified: Sunday, June 10, 2012 8:27 PM
Sowela Technical Community College will soon have a new mascot, but it’s up to the school’s community to make the final decision between the Aviators and the Flying Tigers.
“The means by which Sowela’s new mascot will be identified is through a Penny War campaign. You may be familiar with the Penny War as a fundraising strategy, and they take many forms. Ours is brilliantly simple. The mascot that makes the most ‘cents’ wins,” said Rick Bateman, vice chancellor for academic affairs and student success.
Sowela kicked off its Penny War campaign Thursday. The money raised by the campaign will go toward student scholarships.
“We began the quest for Sowela’s mascot many months ago by polling our college community and then the broader community of Southwest Louisiana. We received scores of potential mascot ideas, a few of which were a little disturbing, but Sowela faculty, staff and students narrowed the list down to six and then ultimately the two you see today,” Bateman said.
“As you can see, the two mascot logos that have emerged are both rooted in the college’s connection to the historic Chennault Air Base and the tremendous partnership we enjoy with the Chennault International Airport.”
The two mascot choices have faculty and staff divided.
“It can be scary sometimes to tell people which mascot you support. They get mad,” said Susan Shaffer, an English teacher at Sowela. “I support the Flying Tigers because it has such a rich history.”
The Flying Tigers mascot idea comes from Chennault International Airport’s namesake, Claire Lee Chennault. Chennault famously led an American volunteer pilot group called the “Flying Tigers” in the summer of 1941 in China.
“They originally called their unit The Flying Tigersharks, which is why the plane in the logo has those teeth, but it was shortened to the Flying Tigers,” said Harvey Arthur Downs Jr., a history teacher at Sowela who also supports the Flying Tigers mascot choice.
Pattie Rupert, a career coach and mentor leader at Sowela, thinks the Aviators is a more appropriate mascot choice.
“I support the Aviators because it really encompasses everything around us,” she said. “Both of them do, but the Aviators would be so easy for a spirit day. Everyone could just put on their big aviator sunglasses and be stunting. Plus it’s a lot less cheesy than the Flying Tigers.”
Bateman said that a mascot is part of Sowela’s “vision of excellence” and will play a big role in engaging students, faculty, alumni and the community.
“We believe that the identification of Sowela’s mascot is an integral part of a strategy to enhance engagement. We may be a few years away from intercollegiate athletics, but we are not too far away from a vibrant intramural sports program and participation in multi-institutional tournaments in recreational sports,” Bateman said.
The Penny War will continue through October and will travel to all Sowela campuses, as well as local businesses, festivals and meetings of civic organizations.
Posted By: Adley Cormier On: 6/9/2012
Title: Claire Chennault at Gerstner
Between 1917 and 1921 when it was demobilized, Gerstner Field trained about 500 aviators for combat missions in World War I's Western Front. Chennault was at Gerstner Field for training. Gerstner was one of three airfields that trained pilots and developed pursuit techniques and was the result of this area's being successful in a national search for sites. Air ambulance, ground to pilot communications and combat pursuit training were all developed at Gerstner. It is also hallowed ground as at 13 airmen were accidentally killed while training. Currently all that remains are the runways and foundations