The Meaning Behind Our Mascot- “The Spartan”

The+Meaning+Behind+Our+Mascot-+%22The+Spartan%22

Chipmunks! Chipmunks! Chip- wait, Chipmunks? That’s right. Up until 1964, our school mascot was a Chipmunk, and yes, you can reread that if you would like. The name chipmunks connected us greatly with the meaning of our school.

After Westminster and Ashburnham agreed and approved the school in 1957-1958, they started building in 1959. However, when they did, there was a lone oak tree, which had made our school name- Oakmont Regional High School, which finally opened its doors to ambitious students in 1960. What better way than to come up with a mascot than find a connection to the school? The oak tree was connected to the acorns, and the acorns connected to the chipmunk. 

Now, you’re probably wondering… why was the mascot changed? Mr. Uminski mentioned that in 1964 the first football team finally came together and the coach said; “We are not going on that field as the Fightin’ Chipmunks!”

According to the 1964-1965 yearbook, the student council immediately started working on planning the “Name-the-Oakmont-Teams” contest just before the first season of our football team. Thanks to winner Mike Francis, we were and still are called the “Oakmont Spartans.”

Betsy Hannula, a former student of Oakmont who graduated in 1963, mentioned that our school colors, back before the Spartans, were brown and green, resembling the colors of the oak tree. However, she was also on the first cheer team and said that the cheer uniforms were green and white. 

Louise Janhunen, who graduated in 1965, was also a cheerleader, The uniforms were green & white–initially as cheerleaders we had a green/brown plaid skirt but not for very long. Green & white took over.” She stated in an email.  

The colors green and white don’t represent the colors of the actual Spartans, instead, their colors were actually maroon and black. Louise says; As far as maroon & black I never heard or would have considered it. Many of us were country kids and the location of Oakmont lent itself very well to the respectful green and white.” 

Changing the school mascot did not need town approval; the change is not recorded in the Ashburnham annual reports.  Many schools do need town approval to do just about anything, but because our school is a regional school, approval is rarely required. 

The Spartan name is made to intimidate which ultimately made sense; this is why. 

Just as we learn in history class, in Ancient Greece the citizens of Sparta were known as warriors – in contrast to the intellectual philosophers. The Spartans were ruthless, and since they had been trained their whole life, they had a high militaristic skill level. As soon as they could walk, they were trained to their full potential, and at seven-years-old, they would release them into the wild with nothing but the little clothes they were wearing. The ones that survived came back, and they continued to train. The strongest trained together and learned to fight in sync. They were powerful and unstoppable. They were always ready for war, always ready to fight back. They never lost their energy and always kept going.

Based on the movie 300, King Leonidas, who was a Spartan warrior, led 300 men into battle with the Persian King, Xerxes, who brought more than 300,000 of his men. The 300 men that King Leonidas led were full-blood Spartan warriors. Those men were the ones who have trained their whole life, and despite being outnumbered, the Spartans killed thousands of men, only losing a few during the battle.

Like our mascot and symbol, the Spartans fought in the war with headgear that presented the mohawk-like structure on the top of the helmet. The helmet represents strength, courage, loyalty, and power. You see, not only did the Spartans possess a unique and high skill fighting technique, one of their greatest strengths was having each other’s back. Their defense was fantastic, instead of protecting themselves, they would move their shield to protect the person next to them, which created this defense wall and it was almost impossible to break.

Just like sports represent our school greatly, war was looked highly upon in Sparta, Greece. One of the most popular quotes from them is “come back with your shield, or come back on it,” 

 which means; either win the battle or die and be carried back home on your shield. Strive to win and strive for greatness, don’t lose. Unfortunately, in the end, they ended up losing, and all were killed- except for one. He later led more Spartans into war years later to get his revenge on the Persians.

So, even if you do lose, come back with a greater plan with a stronger mindset. The “Spartan” was an amazing mascot choice, especially with the meanings behind it.

 

RECOGNITION

Big thank you to Betsy Hannula, Louise Janhunen, and Mr. Uminski for helping me navigate my way through the history of Oakmont. Thanks for giving a feel for what Oakmont used to be like when it was first built; it’s fascinating to be able to handle Oakmonitors and annual reports that were made in the 1960s.  Also, I want to add in this story from Louise Janhunen:

 “How’s this for an old memory? I was in the 8th grade when it opened & I had grown up in Westminster. The first handsome 8th grade guy I saw was from South Ashburnham. His name was Pete Janhunen & he was the first quarter back for the football team. We fell in love early on, dated through high school; graduated in 1965 & married in 1967; were married for 52 years when he passed away in 2019.”