There’s a new face behind the Portland High School Bulldogs mascot this year: Kameron King, a freshman at PHS who also is a student at Governor Baxter School for the Deaf.
“I love being the first deaf mascot for Portland High School,” Kameron said.
He was chosen for the role after responding to a school announcement seeking a volunteer to wear the PHS Bulldogs costume and inspire school spirit, said Athletic Director Robert O’Leary. “Kameron applied for the position and did a great job on his interview …,” O’Leary said, adding, “The mascot’s role is to spread school spirit at all sporting events that they are able to attend, as well as pep rallies and other social events.”
Kameron said, “I became the PHS mascot because I enjoy supporting Portland sports teams and want people to know that the Portland Bulldogs are strong. I feel inspired when I put on the Bulldog mascot (costume), even though it’s very hot!”
“I really don’t see this responsibility as more of a challenge for me because I’m Deaf,” Kameron said. “The mascot doesn’t talk. Deaf people are very visual. I use my eyes and my energy to get the crowd fired up. The one thing that is a challenge is that I sometimes miss it when little kids want high fives. I can hear the volume of the crowd cheering, but I don’t hear the kids yelling “Bulldog.” My coach helps me by tapping me on the shoulder and pointing. Then, I can give the little kids high fives.”
For 13 years, the Portland Public Schools and the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing /Governor Baxter School have had an educational collaboration. In 2003, MECDHH/GBSD’s high school program moved from Mackworth Island to PHS, providing deaf and hard of hearing students with access to classrooms and extracurricular programs that only a large, diverse urban school could provide. In 2010, the MECDHH/GBSD middle school program moved to Lyman Moore Middle School. And this year, the MECDHH/GBSD K-5 program expanded to East End Community School.
The collaboration provides an opportunity for public school hearing students to learn American Sign Language, and MECDHH/GBSD students are an integral part of the school.
“While the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf’s mascot is a seagull, our students consider themselves to be Bulldogs!” said John Jones, director of instruction.
Kameron King, a freshman at PHS who also is a student at Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, is the first deaf student to don the mascot’s costume.
Members of the Deering High School volleyball team donated teddy bears they collected earlier this month to the Portland Police Department. Front row from left are Nearie Im, Cindy Hoang and Diane Dervis. Second row: Sgt. Andrew Hutchings, Mackenzie Nichols, Janella Seno, Crystal Gonzalez, Coach Larry Nichols, Kaylee Helmick, Kathern Balzano, Deering Resource Officer Steven Black. The teddy bears will be given to children who are in crises situations.