“Excuse me, but what exactly is a wyvern?” a parent asks. “It’s like a dragon with no arms,” you reply. “Or no, it is a goat with a horned tail. But it spits fire?” Many a KO student has been asked this question before, but does anybody really know the answer?
Everybody knows that KO’s mascot is the wyvern; there are wyverns at all the school entrances and in almost every classroom. The words “Wyvern Nation” are just about everywhere on campus.
A wyvern is more than just a high school mascot though, and where it comes from may be different from your previous knowledge. And why we have a mythical beast as our symbol is its own unique story.
First off, a wyvern is not a dragon. It is a two-legged, eagle-serpent hybrid, with the wings and talons of an eagle, and the back and tail of a snake or lizard. Instead of breathing fire, it spits poison. Surprisingly, wyverns are not crimson and black like the school colors; they are red with a dark green belly.
How KOKO came to Kingswood Oxford is a unique and distinctive story, fitting for KO’s unique mascot. In 1740, John Wesley, famous for establishing Methodism, decided to also establish his own school in Bath, England. This school was named Kingswood. On Wesley’s coat of arms was a red and black wyvern, and so this same wyvern became the mascot of the school.
George Nicholson, a student and teacher at Kingswood, which is still a running school today, came to Hartford in 1916 and established his own Kingswood.
He made sure nothing was changed from the original school, from the colors to the mascot, and so the wyvern became the symbol of the new, Americanized Kingswood.
For Kingswood in England, and the wyvern’s other appearances throughout the globe, a wyvern symbolized one thing: power. In the Olympics in ancient Greece, the wyvern was a symbol of prowess and it represented war and pestilence in imperial Rome. Even the Saxons, a Germanic tribe, used the wyvern as their symbol. Throughout history, wyverns have been symbolic of strength, just as they are at KO.
To KO, the wyvern is that intensity and focus before a game, but also the sportsmanship after. It is the pride in doing well in your classes, but also the grit and determination to do better, and this all comes from thousands of years of mythology and history.
Today, KOKO is still the proud, fantastical mascot from over 100 years ago and is especially prominent in KO’s athletics. Director of Athletics Debbie Fiske said that she loves having a wyvern as a mascot since it is so different from other schools and is great for reinforcing school pride.
“The wyvern embodies ‘respect all, fear none,’” she said. “It symbolizes having pride in a team unit that you put hard work into. You don’t just expect it; you earn it.”
Mrs. Fiske also said they are always looking for somebody to jump into the KOKO suit, and all you need to do is ask. The former KOKOs are Tim Bucknam and Nick Spina. She said that the only requirement is an enthusiastic attitude and a willingness to interact with the crowd.
“[The] beauty of it is sometimes people don’t know who you are in there,” Mrs. Fiske said. “ People like that mystery too.” Freshman and former KOKO Mike DeMio agreed, saying it was a really fun experience, especially because nobody knew who he was.
But KOKO is not just a cool mascot; he is the third coolest mascot in the country according to USA Today. In 2014, KO took the bronze in the best high school mascot contest, and KOKO even went on “The Today Show” to celebrate.
Since, the contest was voting-based and there was no limit to voting, KO students and teachers whipped out their computers and devices, supporting KOKO all the way to the end, even setting up a couple hours over March break dedicated to voting. In the finals, KOKO earned 1,783,538 votes.
From the wyvern weathervane on the top of Seaverns to the wyvern statues at every entrance to the school, the KO community is surrounded by KOKOs. There are wyverns on almost every sports uniform and there is school store full of KOKO merch. There are so many wyvern posters, plushies, and pictures across campus, there probably is not a room on campus that does not have some wyvern-themed school pride.
Whether it is in athletics or academics, KOKO is always there cheering us on. From strength, courage, and intensity, to knowledge, positivity, and integrity, the wyvern stands for what KO strives to be.
Through thick and thin, logo controversy, nickname changes, and over 100 years as mascot, KOKO has been representing wyverns everywhere. “I think we have a good [mascot] that can join forces with everybody and have really good school pride,” Mrs. Fiske said.