Pettisville Local Schools didn’t need four and 20 blackbirds to be honored in a statewide list naming the best school mascots. They only needed one.
Aceable.com, which offers an online driver’s course targeted to a teenage demographic, recently expanded to Ohio. As a playful introduction to its services, the Texas-based company reviewed the Buckeye State’s 600-plus school districts in search of the top 25 high school mascots.
The Pettisville Blackbird caught the eye of Avery Shackelford, an Aceable content writer who compiled the list. She gave it the No. 23 spot because the the mascot appears to be unique.
“I have never heard of a school having a blackbird as a mascot,” she said. “I don’t know that’s there’s another blackbird mascot in the country. That one definitely stood out for me.”
The Pettisville Blackbird costume has been filled the past three years by sophomore Owen King. He began the duties in eighth grade.
Try as she might, however, Shackelford’s research could not unearth the origin of the mascot. Neither could Superintendent Steve Switzer, who suggested it might be lost to history.
“I think it’s a great mascot. It’s unique,” he said.
Shirley M. Wyse, 86, a Pettisville native and local historian who lives in the house where she grew up, is also stumped. Wyse said when she initially researched the school district for a written history of the community she overlooked when and where the mascot was created.
Her collection of Pettisville High School yearbooks, which date back to the first one published in 1931, offer no clue. The 1937 edition mentions the Black and White basketball team. The first mention of a sports team named the Blackbirds basketball team appeared in the 1938 volume.
It reads: “For winning 11 games, and losing one in the Fulton County League, we got the league trophy. In the Fulton County tournament, the Blackbirds beat Metamora in the first round, 30-18, beat Swanton in the semi-finals 40-38 in an over-time game, and Fayette in the finals, 27-19.”
Shackelford said the originality and creativity of being a blackbird was not the entire reason Pettisville’s mascot made the cut. She also based her selections on the historical significance of the communities.
“There was a lot of information about the histories that we thought was fun. We kind of try to make it fun for teenagers. We thought those stories made them really unique,” she said.
Aceable compiled a similar list in Texas, and in California when the company branched out there.
For the record, there is at least one other blackbird school mascot in the country. It belongs to Long Island University Brooklyn in New York.
The Aceable article can be found at www.aceable.com/blog/the-25-best-ohio-high-school-mascots-ranked/
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.