Signs of Kalispell being a two-school town are beginning to show. Blue and green Wolfpack T-shirts. Two consecutive weeks of homecoming-like celebrations. And, if you were downtown about a week ago, a hairy, black wolf posing for pictures and waving at cars.
“When we went from soccer to volleyball I stayed in costume and was sticking my wolf head out the window and waving,” said junior Taryn Groshelle, one of about five students who takes turns performing as the Glacier mascot. “People from out-of-state were asking for photos.”
It’s not quite Homecoming this week for Glacier High School – the senior-less school won’t have alumni until this year’s juniors graduate in 2009 – but other traditional Homecoming sights and sounds: pep rallies, marching band, mascots and royalty are abound this week at Glacier. And for students and teachers, this week’s “Beginning Bash” is a chance to foster new traditions.
“Schools like Flathead are already going to have their traditions, but for us I guess it’s pretty cool to just start building our own,” said junior Tyler Russell, a student council member and mascot who helped plan the week’s activities. The Glacier mascot is dubbed Al or Allie, depending on the gender of the student “shaking it” that day. Each student has their own color of sequin headband they add to the costume when they’re acting as the wolf.
For Russell, Groshelle, and fellow mascot Jenelle Hoover, struggling to squirm and pull into the fuzzy, “extremely hot” wolf costume means building school pride and firing up the crowds.
“I think our fans have a lot of fun and it’s cool to get to come out with a mascot and band and cheerleaders and get everyone going,” Russell said. “I think it surprises a lot of people. They expect us to be like ‘Oh, we’re new’ and be all quiet, but we come out big and it’s like ‘Hey, they don’t mess around.’”
Several students said they were tired of hearing about “making history” or “being the first,” but admitted that despite the “hype” being part of the new school is pretty fun. And with wardrobe changes – closets full of black and orange shifting to blue and green – they grow accustomed to their role as the Wolfpack.
Members of the marching band spent last week practicing in the cold rain for their first field show prior to Friday night’s football game. For Glacier’s freshmen and sophomores even getting to perform in the marching band is a first; since freshmen didn’t previously attend Flathead they didn’t have the opportunity to participate in marching band until their sophomore year. “It’s different when most of your 82 members haven’t ever done this before, but they’ve been working hard and it’s great for them to get the chance to participate,” said David Barr, band director.
The school couldn’t dole out the money needed for formal marching band uniforms. Instead, the students wear blue and green Wolfpack windbreaker jackets. They’ll be performing a “Blues Brothers” show Friday, and playing at a pep rally this week, Barr said.
Russell, Groshelle and Hoover said the best part of being the mascot face of the school was not having to show their faces at all. Freed by anonymity the three said that despite the costume’s drawbacks – like being drenched in sweat, a head fan that sucks up hair rather than cooling, and limited vision – getting to rally the crowd and dance around is a blast.
“It’s just all about getting people pumped up, dancing, goofing off with kids, showing pride,” Hoover said. “Just dress me up and let me go.”
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