In early September, we formed a committee to develop a recommendation for the Thaden School mascot. Composed of students, faculty, and staff, the committee invited nominations from the school community as well as the general public. After weeks of deep and closely guarded deliberations, the committee presented its unanimous recommendation to Thaden’s Board of Directors for final approval.
We are pleased to announce that the committee’s recommendation is now official:
Here are some of the leading considerations behind the mascot committee’s recommendation:
There is much to admire in the pioneering spirit of barnstormers. While the aerial acrobatics of these traveling stunt pilots thrilled audiences on the ground, they also demonstrated the sturdiness and agility of their planes and gave important visibility to the capabilities of aviation technology, fueling the growth of the industry and inspiring future aviators like our Louise. Charles Lindbergh, for example, started his career as a barnstormer before making his transatlantic solo flight in 1927. It takes a barnstorming spirit to build a new school, and we see that spirit in our founding families, faculty and staff, board members, and local supporters.
The barnstorming community was also striking in its diversity. Many women and people of color made important contributions to aviation as barnstormers. This aspect of the barnstorming community is closely aligned with the guiding principle (as expressed in our mission statement) that “the diversity of a school is essential to the quality of the education that it provides.”
The word “barnstormers” is rich with metaphorical possibilities that transcend its literal connection to aviation. It can be shortened to “Stormers”, a nod to the meteorological excitement that comes with living in Northwest Arkansas. And in “barn” it also speaks to the agricultural identity of our region. This combination of the terrestrial and the celestial also resonates with our emphasis on Thaden as a school that gives students “roots and wings” – strong foundations and soaring aspirations.
We have also adopted the Arkansas barn owl as the personification of the Thaden Barnstormer. Owls are commonly associated with wisdom and intelligence (the symbol of Athena), mystery and beauty, and quiet strength (barn owls are silent, nocturnal hunters with an uncanny sense of hearing). With its round face and great wingspan, the profile of a barn owl in flight also bears a striking resemblance to our logo. We have settled on a fitting name for our barnstorming barn owl: Ace – a name associated with expertise and skill, especially in aviation.
And if we haven’t already convinced you of how amazing and inspiring this mascot is, we leave you with one more consideration: in 1919, Louise Thaden took her first flight with a barnstormer. She was 14 years old, a freshman at Bentonville High, which at that time stood on the grounds where we are now building our campus!