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Crestwood introduces ‘Dante’ as way to spark school spirit

Crestwood introduces ‘Dante’ as way to spark school spirit


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Holly Tayerle and Kim Krueger know what school spirit looks like.

More specifically, as proud graduates, they know what Crestwood school spirit looks like.

And they knew it was time to bring it back.

Crestwood’s new mascot, Dante, stands with Holly Tayerle (left) and Kim Krueger.

“Our pep rallies had kind of fizzled out. The kids didn’t think they were fun, they were not staying at school for them and it got to the point that they never really even wanted to participate in them,” said Krueger, who graduated in 2008.

Instead of wondering why, Krueger and Tayerle decided to get to work on making a change.

It started with a conversation with high school principal Dave McMahon.

“We set off a plan to bring back the pep rallies in a new way last school year. It was around February,” Krueger said. “Our first one, we had kids riding on tables on the backs of kids, who were rolling on the ground. It was crazy, but we knew we had to go big to get the kids’ attention and make it so that they wanted to be there. It was a big wow factor for the kids and they quickly realized that the pep rallies can be fun and they can be cool.”

The conversations to once again bring energy and enthusiasm to the school spirit also sparked the idea of a new mascot.

Tayerle, a 2013 graduate, said she left the meeting and immediately started searching for places that produced mascots for schools.

Eventually, the district agreed to partner with Loonie Times, which is based out of Ontario, Canada, and highly regarded in the creation of school mascots.

The key for Crestwood was to make sure that its Devil mascot was not designed or portrayed to look menacing.

“We wanted our mascot to be friendly so that kids would not be afraid to approach it,” Tayerle said.

The design process for Crestwood’s new mascot began in October 2022, with the design process taking about nine months before the final suit arrived in November 2023.

“We had sent the company one of our school logos, which has the full body of our Devil mascot. That logo became the design inspiration, ” Tayerle said. We went through three different eyes and face variations before we settled in on the design that we felt came across as friendly.”

The mascot was officially unveiled in mid-December, was formally introduced as “Dante” following a district-wide vote amongst employees and its first athletic event was the Crestwood boys basketball team’s matchup against Cardinal on Jan. 26.

“That game was the first big moment for the community to see the mascot,” Krueger said. “The best for me was seeing the kids run up to him, giving fist bumps, hugs and high fives. They were taking pictures with the mascot. That was the highlight for me. It was great.”

The next week, Dante spent time at the Intermediate School and the reception was so good that it interfered with lunch.

“I am not sure the kids sat down to each lunch that day,” Krueger said. “It was super awesome to see the kids have that kind of response, though. To see them get that excited was more than we could have wished for.”

The identity of the mascot is something the school plans to keep as a secret — and the district also has plans to get Dante more involved in future seasons.

“The cool thing is that the mascot will be student-driven, and we plan to have them work alongside our cheerleaders in the future so they can be even more involved in the game-day experience,” Krueger said.

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