While student athletes from across the school district prepare for the annual Knights of Columbus Indoor Track Meet, Deerwood Elementary School held a special assembly on April 2 to welcome a new, permanent addition to their school community.
To an excited, packed gym full of students, teachers and parents, Murray the Dragon was welcomed to cheers and hugs as he made his way through the crowd. With a slight startle at first to some of our kindergarten learners, our youngest soon realized that Murray the Dragon is not a harsh, scary dragon, but one that is indeed loveable and friendly to all. With smiles all around, Murray the Dragon saved the biggest hug for Murray Cameron, our phys-ed teacher, for which the dragon is named after.
When interviewed about how they like their school’s mascot, students had nothing but praise for the fuzzy, blue mythic creature. “I love the way he danced with the crowd!” exclaimed Kennedy in Grade 2. “It’s funny how his tongue of fire sticks out!” Her classmate, Kaeden, was equally enthusiastic in his praise. “I just love his big feet and how his little wings appear from his back.” Kerri, in Grade 6, noted her special connection to Murray the Dragon. Having been a student of Phys-Ed teacher Mr. Cameron’s since kindergarten, Kerri made the initial pitch to have the dragon named after him.
According to Grade 8 teacher and student council teacher-advisor Debby Belyea student council, in its current edition, began to address the issue of the school not having a mascot. Once the fundraising process was nearing completion, the dilemma of finding an appropriate name for the dragon began to surface at student council meetings.
While suggestions such as “Blue” and “Drako” were presented as possibilities Kerri, who is a member of student council, expressed how she liked the possibility of naming him “Murray” to honour Mr. Cameron, who has taught for 30 years with the School District of Mystery Lake, five of which teaching at Deerwood Elementary School, building a dynamic Phys-Ed program and volunteering endless hours enlightening children to his passion for sports and healthy living. Unanimously, Deerwood Elementary School student council approved the suggestion and from then on, the name stuck.
Noting how the school has never had a mascot, principal Laurie McInnes was proud to indicate that the creation of Murray the Dragon involved staff and students. Belyea, for example, recalled how that all that came about. “Our students spent two years fundraising for Murray. We contacted ‘Sugar’s Mascot Costumes’ out of Toronto and I made a design with input from the kids.” While chuckling at her recollection on how her first design looked much like the 80’s television show character “Alf,” Belyea said that the current version of Murray the Dragon is actually the third draft. From then on it was two years of bake sales and school dances. It was the generous assistance of the Deerwood Elementary School parent council, however, that helped the dream of Murray the Dragon became a reality. In support of the school’s plan to fundraise for the mascot, Deerwood Elementary School parent advisory council paid for half the cost.
The real charm about this entire plan, however, was how Cameron had no idea that the mascot was to be named after him. It was, in fact, Deerwood Elementary School’s best-ever kept secret!
So, with all this excitement, what did Mr. Murray Cameron think of all this? “Whoa!” chuckled Cameron. He’s quite the dragon! It must be time to retire!”