ROSELAND — Fenger High School officials hope its new mascot — Turbo The Titan — will boost school spirit at an institution known nationally for being at the center of gang activity and other violence, most notably the 2009 slaying of Derrion Albert.
"I've been at this school for 12 years. I've seen all the media focusing on the negative, and all the great things get overlooked," said Fenger athletic director Christopher McFarland, also the Titans' cross-country, softball and wrestling coach.
"I know that violence and negativity sells, so I understand that, but we have had some fantastic things happen in the years I've been here," McFarland said. "Turbo The Titan will provide many, many, many years of enthusiasm, school spirit and genuine fun for the kids — and another reason for the kids to feel good about themselves."
Fenger was featured prominently in CNN's "Chicagoland" — with principal Liz Dozier serving as a main character trying to prevent her current and former students from getting involved with gangs and gun violence.
Turbo debuted at a Nov. 25 school-wide assembly that recognized students on the honor roll, ones with perfect attendance and others with most-improved grades, McFarland said.
"The kids were really excited," McFarland said. "The mascot did a little dance on the stage, and the students were dancing with the mascot."
McFarland said Turbo will return for a home boys basketball game against Corliss at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The mascot then will appear at various athletic events, assemblies and other school functions.
He said Turbo cost between $3,000 and $5,000, and was bought with funds from the school's student activities budget. McFarland ordered the mascot costume — which is red, white and forest green — from Ohio-based ProMo Costumes Inc.
"They wanted him kind of tough and athletic — but not too scary — and cool," said Lyn Giles, president/owner of Promo Costumes Inc. "They were great to work with, and we're glad Turbo is out and about."
McFarland said nine Fenger students have applied for a five-spot rotation to play the role of Turbo — which was constructed with a lightweight, heavy-duty foam and covered with a stretch fabric for skin.
"There's a lot of interest from students who are willing to be inside the mascot," McFarland said.
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