Swearing in the New Hopper
GDS surprised students with a swearing-in ceremony for a brand-new Hopper mascot costume during the third annual All-School Spirit Assembly on the last Friday of September. Dignitaries for the event included eight mascots from the DMV, the old Hopper Emeritus, DC Council Member Kenyan McDuffie (a GDS parent), and the GDS Leadership Team dressed in the black robes of Supreme Court Justices.
Prior to the new Hopper’s arrival, student members of the High School Community Leadership Corps, dressed as Secret Service agents, secured the area for the arrival of the visiting dignitaries: Screech the Bald Eagle and Teddy Roosevelt from the Nationals, American University’s Clawed Z. Eagle, Georgetown University’s Jack the Bulldog, George Washington University’s Colonial, Howard University’s Bison, the Sidwell Fox, and the Maret Frog.
The new Hopper arrived in a motorcade led by High School security guard Nick Prout on a Harley. Student paparazzi swarmed the large black SUVs as the brand-new Hopper mascot emerged from the vehicle, surrounded by agents. Standing more than seven feet tall with a big grin, bright green accenting, and bold, yellow-green boots, the new Hopper waved to students as they walked onto the field. Agents sprang into action, telling people to “Step back!” and “Make way!”
After High School Performing Arts Chair Jason Strunk performed the national anthem, Head of School Russell Shaw spoke about the history of the School’s mascot and the “Hopper spirit” that resides in each member of the community. Kenyan presided over the swearing-in ceremony, while the Hopper nodded and used hand gestures to acknowledge the pledge. The assembly concluded with the traditional Senior Tunnel, in which younger students run between parallel rows of pool-noodle-wielding High School seniors.
The costume was designed by a team of GDS staff members, administrators, and High School student representatives from the 2022-23 Hopper Athletic Leadership Team (HALT). Thanks to Ben Carter ’23, Mackenzie Williams ’23, Talia Berger ’24, Koen Yu ’25, and Evelyn Chen ’25 for their participation on the design team. For those paying attention, it appears the Hopper’s stylist forgot to actually dress the mascot for the occasion—oops! Look for #45 at the next community event!
*Video Description for Accessibility (Director’s Cut)
00:00—Members of the High School Community Leadership Corps, dressed as Secret Service agents, secure the area for the arrival of visiting dignitaries. As a hype crew warms up the crowd, mascots from around the DMV assemble on the LMS driveway, including Screech and Teddy from the Nationals, George Washington University’s Colonial, American University’s Clawed Z. Eagle, Georgetown University’s Jack the Bulldog, the Sidwell Fox, and the Maret Frog. Howard University’s Bison arrived a bit later.
19:06—The mascots step out onto the field to Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” to the delight of students, who run over for high-fives, hugs, and selfies.
32:17—The old Hopper, well-loved and worn ragged, walks carefully onto the field, cane in hand and shawl over their shoulders. Students jump for joy to see their old friend. Several Middle School students escort the Hopper across the field, where the visiting mascots give hugs, high-fives, and hey-old-buddy back pats. What a great run it’s been for the old Hopper.
52:10—Mascots start a dance party as Diana Ross sings, “I want the world to know. I’ve got to let it show.” Students cheer and wave small green-and-white towels.
1:08:16—DC Councilman Kenyan McDuffie (parent of Kesi ’25 and Jozi '28) joins a receiving line of GDS Leadership Team members, who are all dressed in the black robes of Supreme Court Justices. Mascot dignitaries take turns greeting the team with handshakes and high-fives…and more dancing.
1:48:07—Official emcee (HS science teacher) Greg Dallinger introduces the mascot dignitaries to varying levels of enthusiasm, from wild cheers to…sorry, Sidwell ;-)
2:09:26—A motorcade pulls up onto the LMS driveway led by GDS High School security guard Nick Prout on a Harley. Student paparazzi swarm the large black SUVs as the brand-new Hopper mascot emerges from the vehicle, surrounded by agents. Standing more than seven feet tall with a big grin, bright green accenting, and bold yellow-green boots, the new Hopper waves to photographers as they walk towards the field. Agents spring into action, telling people to “Step back!” and “Make way!”
2:38:10—The Hopper walks onto the field to wild applause from students from PK-12th grades, who sit in a semicircle around the field. After a quick hug from the old Hopper, our new mascot rushes to the crowd for high-fives, protected by the agents.
3:11:20—High School Performing Arts Chair Jason Strunk performs the national anthem as students, adults, and mascots hold their hands over their hearts. Head of School Russell Shaw welcomes everyone to the third annual All-School Spirit Assembly and thanks the assembled mascots for attending the special celebration and the Hopper emeritus for their service to the School. He speaks about the enduring “Hopper Spirit” that resides in each member of the community, most of all in the new Hopper mascot.
3:52:18—Greg welcomes Kenyan, on his birthday, to the podium for the official swearing-in. The new Hopper stands, hand raised, nodding and giving hand signals to acknowledge the pledge as read to them by the council member. The crowd cheers as it becomes official, and the Hopper gives a “speech” as their assistant holds up large cue cards to say, “THANK YOU,” “GO HOPPERS,” “I ♥️ GDS,” and “TUNNEL TIME,” announcing the traditional Senior Pool Noodle Tunnel that marks the conclusion of the assembly.
5:21:00—Seniors assemble in parallel lines holding pastel-colored pool noodles as students run through the tunnel between them. Lower School students are followed unexpectedly by Middle School students, participating in the tunnel portion for the first time. Seniors and High School students gather for a class photo at the conclusion of the ceremony.