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Duke the Dragon planning college road trips, spreading good will
Posted 10 - 31 - 2012

Duke the Dragon planning college road trips, spreading good will


NACOGDOCHES — Duke the Dragon is hitting the road to help Nacogdoches elementary school students learn about options for continuing education after high school.

The district’s mascot made his first stop right here at Stephen F. Austin State University where he gathered insight into college life — from the degrees offered to the extracurricular activities available. His findings, along with photos of university, were posted on his personal blog,

The idea to send Duke to universities around the nation came to NISD College and Career Coordinator Keri Launius during a conference trip to No Excuses University (NSU).

“The experience we had at NSU was full of innovative ideas for our district to implement that will have continuous improvement creating a college going culture among our students and community,” Launius said.

Raguet Elementary School was first to investigate post-secondary education opportunities through Duke’s road trips and blogs. Principal Kristi Shofner, who attended the same conference, jumped at the opportunity to involve her campus.

“We love to be innovative and explore new ways to promote a college-going culture on our campus,” Shofner said. “That is why we were so excited that we would be the first campus to have the opportunity to send Duke on a road trip”

After Duke’s SFA adventure, he plans to stop at Angelina College, the Nacogdoches County Technical Center, Texas A&M University, Oregon University and many others across the state and nation. If Duke’s schedule prohibits him from travelling in person, he’ll send Little Duke — his miniature dragon pal who always is ready for time on the road.

Launius and Shofner agree additional exposure to post-secondary educational opportunities benefits students because it instills an expectation to continue studies after Nacogdoches ISD. It also shows what can be gain by attending a university, community college, or technical schools.

Expanding Duke’s role beyond the athletic realm gives younger students a familiar, beloved character to which they can relate.

“All NISD schools claim the Dragon as their mascot so the students know who he is, and can have fun following him on his Road-Trip adventures, as well as when he is here locally,” said NISD superintendent Dr. Fred Hayes.

Duke is taking on additional responsibilities when he’s between road trips. The dragon plans to make visits in the community, serving as the NISD ambassador of good will. Those whom he catches exhibiting positive behavior, supporting the district and being a friend of education —“The Spirit of the Dragon” — might find themselves being honored by Duke and NISD.

“Our schools and community are filled with people who are doing great things for our NISD kids,” Hayes said. “This is our opportunity to recognize their efforts and say thank you.


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