Local woman designs new mascot for Pocatello High School
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REXBURG – After a lot of debate surrounding the selection of a new mascot at Pocatello High School, a decision has finally been made and a local business owner was chosen to design it.
Ann Stokes of Rexburg tells EastIdahoNews.com she dropped off the school’s new official mascot costume Thursday and she’s excited for people to see it.
“I was thrilled (to get this opportunity),” Stokes says. “I’ve been wanting to lean more towards schools and businesses. This was a great experience to step up and do that more.”
The school’s new mascot, which was announced in January, is the Pocatello Thunder and the mascot costume is a bison with a lightning bolt on the thigh of the right leg. The new mascot took effect on June 1 at the end of the 2020-2021 school year and will officially be introduced to students and faculty during an assembly on the first day of school Aug. 25.
EastIdahoNews.com spoke with Stokes in November about her mascot design business, Felistellar Studios. She reached out to the school shortly after we ran that story. After a lot of back and forth for several months, the school ultimately took her up on the offer to design the mascot.
“In March … they got the design finalized,” says Stokes. “I started it and finished (the project) at the beginning of this month. I was able to drop it off once my finals were all done (Thursday).”
Stokes is finishing up a degree at Brigham Young University-Idaho and is slated to graduate in December.
Pocatello High School Principal Lisa Delonas says they were thrilled to work with a local business owner for the design process. She and Art Teacher Shawn Phelps took a look at the costume Friday afternoon and responded with an ecstatic, “It’s awesome!”
“I had Shawn put it on for me. He walked around in my yard … and it looks great,” Delonas says.
See what it looks like in the video player above.
Once the decision was made to change the school’s mascot in September, administrators put out a call to the community for suggestions. A committee came up with a criteria for making a selection.
Delonas says there were about 3,500 submissions during the first go-round, most of which were animals. The committee narrowed it down to nine options.
“It was pretty close to being an even three-way split between bison, thunder and phantoms,” says Delonas.
The committee took this information to the school board and were asked to again get input from the community on the top three. About 40 people submitted imagery for Thunder, says Delonas.
“Every time we went out, the bison theme somehow rolled into it so we decided we would go with the name ‘Thunder’ but attach bison imagery to it,” she says.
To those who were loyal to the original ‘Indians’ mascot, Delonas says this new mascot has a connection to the Indian culture. Chief Pocatello, the school and city’s namesake, was known to members of the Shoshone tribe as Tonaioza, which means “buffalo robe.”
“This new mascot will not be tied to any Indian imagery, out of respect for the tribe’s request, but at least there’s a link (to the old mascot),” Delonas explains.
Administrators are still finalizing how to officially unveil the new mascot, but Delonas says they’re considering introducing it with an origin story, such as Chief Pocatello passing on the role of the school’s image to a beast “with broad shoulders and lots of strength” after years of carrying that burden upon himself.
She’s excited to begin a new era at Pocatello High School with a new mascot.
“For many decades, we have not had a mascot where a kid could where a suit and run around and be crazy,” says Delonas. “We’ve tried to be really respectful about being the Indians and so we never would allow kids to dress up as Indians. So I think a new mascot will be fun and will give kids an opportunity to wear crazy bison hats.”
As for Stokes, she says she’s seen a spike in business over the last several months and she has several new projects in the works, including a dragon and a cat costume.
Teton High School in Driggs recently changed their mascot from the Redskins to the Timberwolves and her new goal is to make the mascot for them as well.
“I did reach out to them. They said they might be interested, but I haven’t heard anything since April,” says Stokes. “We’ll see what happens.”