THE SHENANDOAH Zeps undoubtedly were "flying high" when the school was named as one of five Ohio schools selected for participation in a unique mascot contest, sponsored by USA Today, and now they've gone to even a higher altitude by being voted as Ohio's representative to the regional round in the national contest.
The Zeps received 147,305 votes on the state level, outdistancing its closest competitor by 15,330 votes in the best mascot contest.
"There's a lot of pride in this community, and a lot of graduates have moved on to different parts of the state ... We support one another," said Dan Doyle, Ph.D., Shenandoah superintendent, who added the Zeps' selection was exciting.
Second in Ohio in the mascot competition were the Norwalk Truckers with 131,975 votes, followed by the Crooksville Ceramics, 23,205 votes; Philo Electrics, 12,498; and Glenville Tarblooders, 3,845.
Now, the school mascot with the catchy name is in regional competition, and the nation is divided into six regions.
And now the competition is getting tougher. The Zeps, which are in Region 4, face eight other mascots from Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Included are the Centralia Orphans, Illinois; Kenmare Honkers, North Dakota; Mitchell Kernels, South Dakota; Winona Winhawks, Minnesota.; Watersmeet Nimrods, Michign; Roland-Story Norsemen, Iowa; Rhineland Hodags, Wisconsin; and Northeast Dubois Fighting Jeeps, Indiana.
For voting, details are available at usatodayhss.com under the "Contests" menu/"Best Mascot."
Speaking of the contest overall, Doyle said, "It's drawn a lot of interest and excitement here locally, and we would appreciate any support."
The superintendent said in the state competition, "the kids from different schools posted comments back and forth. ... I think the kids might have made some contacts" with others around the state.
Noting that it's now a matter of state against state, Doyle said, "Hopefully, we can drum up some support."
The regional round is from March 6-14, and then the final six winners will compete March 15-25. The national winner will receive $2,000 for its athletic department.
Shenandoah doesn't have a mascot dressed up in any fashion to represent a dirigible, but there are decals on vehicles and athletic clothing also promotes the school. Some fans have model-sized Zeppelins on top of hats or helmets.
"We came by an actual piece of the dirigible itself," said Doyle, who added it's exhibited on the wall at the entrance to the school, and pictures related to the crash also are displayed.
Located in the hills of Noble County, Shenandoah has around 1,000 students, and the county itself isn't large.
The mascot takes its name from the USS Shenandoah, a Zeppelin airship, which was on a promotional flight to the Midwest in September 1925. Caught up in thunderstorms over Ohio, the dirigble was torn apart, crashing in the Ava area of Noble County. Twenty-two men stepped from the dirigible when it reached the ground, and 14 persons were killed in the crash.
Built in 1963, Shenandoah High School is a consolidation of four small schools including Summerfield (Golden Gophers), Belle Valley (Purple Riders), Sarahsville (Red Devils) and Batesville (Beavers).
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