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The Hilltopper Herald

“What Even is a Hilltopper?” Students on Science Hill’s New Mascot

What Even is a Hilltopper? Students on Science Hills New Mascot

“Toppy the Top Hat” made his debut at Science Hill’s first pep rally of the season this month, taking his first public steps guided by two cheerleaders directing his path. It’s the first time in years the Toppers have had a physical mascot, and it happens to be a man in a top hat.

Science Hill has been the “Hilltoppers” for a long time, a name derived from the school’s old location on a hill in downtown Johnson City, near Munsey Memorial Church and Girls Inc.

On August 24th, 1868, the Science Hill Male and Female Institute held its first classes. Before transitioning into a public school after receiving funding, it was a private charter institution. By the 1950s, however, the downtown location had become overcrowded due to the growing youth population. As a result, a new grade system was established, leading to the construction of the John Exum location, where the school is located today.

Our mascot was chosen ages ago to reflect our school’s culture and location at that time. But does it still fit? Do current students like our mascot? What about his new form? I interviewed a few students, staff, and the previous mascot to find out.

Olivia Castillo, a member of the improv team and Science Hill Showstoppers, shared her thoughts. When asked about the new mascot, she says, “I think he’s a little silly,” chuckling. “I’m not sure how much I like the school mascot, but I’m glad we actually have one now and not just a picture of a mysterious guy in a top hat.” She adds, laughing, “but I think it’s very funny that he has two cheerleaders leading him around because he can’t see anything.”

Chloe Dewitt had a more positive attitude about the mascot. Chloe, being a cheerleader, frequently works with the mascot. When asked her opinion on Toppy, she says, “Toppy is a good opportunity to spread school pride.”

However, Caleb Buckman, who was previously the mascot for a short period of time, had a more cynical approach. “Even though I was in it, it was kinda trashy. Cause it’s a Hilltopper. I mean, what even is a Hilltopper?”

Indeed, what even is a Hilltopper, besides us? While other school mascots make sense for their schools, ours seemingly doesn’t. When I asked the interviewees what they thought of ‘The Hilltoppers’, I received mixed responses.

“I mean, it’s an original thing, we have to keep it going, it’s a tradition, but I mean it is a difficult thing to make a mascot out of,” says Castillo.

Meanwhile, Caleb states, “It’s cool for the fact we’re on a hill, but besides that, I don’t think there’s anything that special about it.”

Chloe adds, “It’s hard for people to understand when they first hear it, but it’s based on Science Hill history, so it makes sense, but it’s hard for people to grasp at first. That’s why Toppy helps with that.”

The general consensus about the mascot seems to be that while we’re generally glad we have a mascot, it’s not perfect. It might take some time to adjust after not having a figurehead like this for so long. However, it has the opportunity to do a lot of good, and we should be proud of being the Hilltoppers; it’s a part of our school history and culture. The real question is, what do you think?

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Lillian Ellis, Staff Writer and Photographer
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