Westford Academy Ghosts: mascot design chosen


Pravar Mukkala

The new design for the mascot is displayed on two frames in the main office at WA.

The design for the WA mascot was chosen after a student vote on Wednesday, Sept. 28 during a special school committee meeting. The new design draws the focus away from the gray hood and black face of the previous mascot, the Grey Ghost, and instead is now called the Westford Academy Ghost. This decision was made after two years of deliberation and around 40 design proposals submitted by students.

A committee made up of former and current teachers, students, parents, and community members, along with the DEI committee, was involved in the process. After narrowing down the designs to eight, two of the eight were chosen to be voted on by students in grades 6-12. A survey containing the two options was sent to students on Monday, Sept. 26. The chosen design, which depicts a ghost with the letters “WA” on it, was created by senior Julia Donescu.

“I’m so excited about this ghost and I’m glad that I was part of a positive change at this school,” Donescu said. “I think that, to me, winning the contest means being a part of a greater positive change that I think WA needed.”

Donescu and the other eight finalists each had a meeting with a graphic designer in order to professionalize their designs so that they would all be prepared to be put on WA clothes or banners.

“I think we have a really, really quality product that we can all embrace,” Principal James Antonelli said. “It’s going to look good on apparel. It’s going to look good on posters. [It’s going to be good] now as we are the Westford Academy Ghosts.”

According to Antonelli, the committee wanted everyone to feel safe and welcomed with the design, which was key to picking the current mascot. They also wanted the original links with the Confederate soldier and the blackface to be gone, and therefore ruled out any designs that were too similar to the original.

The process of changing the design was not easy, and it is not complete either. While the old design is obsolete now, it still exists on school walls and sports jerseys. However, these paintings will gradually be painted over in following years, and the athletic clothing will be cycled out slowly and replaced with clothes with the new mascot.

“[As far as I know,] the student body probably prefers that [the old design] stayed, but this is the reality we’re living in right now. We’re [supposed to be] moving forward. I’m very happy for Julia; she got what she deserved,” senior Meghna Kumar said.

While there has been backlash from some on Donescu’s design, there are still many community members, including the school committee and Antonelli, as well as many students, who appreciate the change of the design. The design is not only popular for inclusivity reasons, but also for other reasons such as the effectiveness and appearance of the mascot. After all, this is not the first time the WA mascot has changed.

“The design is less cartoony and childish, taking on a more serious and more confident look,” junior Mars Mamidipudi said. “As an artist, I like how much more recognizable the silhouette is.”

In the end, the entire process began because the Grey Ghost made members of the WA and the Westford communities feel unwelcome; with the new ghost, there are hopes that this will change.

“Change is hard. Change is hard for everyone, for alumni, for community members, for seniors and older students,” school committee member Gloria Miller said. “There are always growing pains with changes […] but this is a long-term positive change for the school and the community.”