Students seek education on complicated history of new school mascot


Ava Wilson

The new mascot was on the endangered species list in California.

When Sir Francis Drake High School became Archie Williams High School (AWHS), the school’s mascot traded its eye-patch and pirate hat for wings and talons. But, what do students actually know about the animal that now serves as their mascot? 

Known as one of the fastest animals on the planet, peregrine falcons are quite adaptable. These birds can be found in dry, arid deserts, and also in the cold climate of mountains. Through peregrine falcons’ grand appeal, they have become a well-known bird.

Because of this, there are conservation groups specifically focused on peregrine falcons. The Peregrine Fund, a falcon conservation group that formed in 1970, works to restore falcon populations in the U.S. 

I feel like peregrine falcons are one of the most iconic falcon species, known around the world and are important to many different cultures,” said Education Coordinator of The Peregrine Fund, Curtis Evans. 

The falcons’ largest problem began in the 1940’s with the introduction of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), a pesticide used for insect control. Research found that DDT thinned out peregrine falcon eggs, resulting in failed nesting attempts. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), by 1970, peregrine falcon breeding pairs had dropped by about 95 percent, forcing the species to be put on the endangered species list. 

Due to the cancellation of DDT and a growing awareness surrounding the peregrine falcon’s declining population, peregrine falcons slowly regained their previous numbers. The CDFW states that although peregrine falcons were officially taken off the federal endangered species list in 1999, it wasn’t until 2009 that California took peregrine falcons off of their list.

Now that AWHS has a new mascot, some school community members feel that it will bring awareness to the situation of peregrine falcons and other birds in the Bay Area.  According to Barton Clark, a physics and environmental science teacher at AWHS, since the 1970s, there has been a 40 percent decline in bird populations altogether. 

Despite the rebranding of the school’s mascot, some AWHS students are unaware of the falcons’ past endangerment. In order to educate the students about the history of their mascot, AWHS junior Julia Ahern suggests that school leadership could lead a presentation in Crew (study hall) about the history of falcons.

Piper Kelly, a freshman at AWHS, thinks that it’s important for the school to acknowledge the peregrine falcons’ history. 

“If they [AWHS] are making [the falcons] their logo and their identity, then they should be able to support the falcons,” Piper said.

While AWHS still does not present a definitive plan to honor the peregrine falcons, students and teachers still feel it is important to learn about their mascot’s history.