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All Words & Wisdoms

What's with the Skunk? What's with the Bear?

June 1, 2007

Note: This article was originally written to be posted on our old website in 2005. Go to "Pepper's Folly" to read about new developments with the IHS mascot in 2007.

One of the most common questions asked by alumni of different generations is “What’s with the bear? or “What’s with the skunk?” The generation gap began in the early 1980’s, when the school’s official mascot changed from a skunk to a bear.

The “official” introduction of “Pepper,” the skunk, as school mascot was made on the “Editor’s Page” of the 1955 IHS Annual. On that page, Janet Jones, Editor, tells the history of “Pepper,” the mascot who “symboliz[ed] school spirit and represent[ed] the pride of the students in their "Alma Mater” for more than 20 years. In 1948, having decided IHS needed a mascot, a group of students purchased a deodorized skunk for $15 from a ranch in Wisconsin. After being led around on a ribbon leash through successful football and basketball seasons, the skunk made an escape from his keeper in the spring of 1948. The skunk mascot was revived in 1953 when Pep Club was first organized. Members of the club called themselves the “little Red Peppers," after their name for the skunk. Then, in the ‘55 Annual, “Pepper” was presented as the official IHS mascot and guided readers through the book. Pepper remained as IHS mascot through the early'80's.

At that time some felt that the skunk was an inappropriately negative and smelly mascot for IHS. A campaign to change the mascot began, and eventually a school wide vote resulted in victory for the Li’l Red Bear. A bear sketch appeared on the end pages of the 1983 Annual, and in the 1985 Annual, the Li’l Red Bear took on the task of guiding students through the book. At about the same time, a student in bear costume began appearing at games and pep rallies. Sadly, by the last half of the ‘80’s, “Pepper” had pretty much been forgotten. “Pepper” fans of the ‘50’s, ‘60’s and ‘70’s are often surprised and distressed by his absence, while bear fans of the last 20 years have little idea that “Pepper” ever existed. AFIHS wishes to bridge the generation gap and celebrate them both as symbols of the spirit of IHS.

Ah,  hope does spring eternal! In the 2006-2007school year, a campaign to revive Pepper was begun by Phil Pennepent, President of the Senior Class. Go to "Pepper's Folly" to read more.


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