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Trojan Man spreads Pottstown cheer throughout the year
by Evan Brandt
POTTSTOWN — Students in the Pottstown School District had early visits from a Santa who looked an awful lot like the district's mascot Trojan Man.
In fact, throughout the year it was not hard to find Trojan Man, everywhere from Franklin Elementary School, to Philadelphia and Bethlehem. If it seems like one mascot could not possibly be all those places, that's because (here's the secret), there's more than one. In fact, depending on the day, there can be as many as 11.
The Trojan Man mascot was revived by alum David Woodley, who also teaches computer science at the high school.
"The Trojan Men live by the motto: 'Making the World a Better Place, one Trojan Man at a Time,'" Woodley wrote when queried by The Mercury.
"This motto guides them through each appearance, as they set out to make someone’s day brighter or to collect donations to help a charitable cause," according to Woodley.
In addition to the traditional role at sporting events, the Trojan Men pursue this motto by visiting schools; community events and, more recently, participating in races, mostly 5Ks, to raise money for charity.
On Dec. 7, the Team Trojan Man 5K team traveled to Bethlehem to support the Lehigh Valley Fellowship of Christian Athletes as they participated in the Christmas Classic Candy Cane 5K, wrote Woodley.
"Running in elf beanies and pants the team was easy to spot on the race course," Woodley wrote.
"Not content to support one cause at a time the Trojan Men supported the NoStigmas organization by wearing their “Mind Your Health” T-shirts.
NoStigmas is an organization that focuses on mental health awareness and providing services for individuals experiencing mental health related issues. The team had a strong showing with Senior Jonathan Oister placing third in his age group while Brandon Gebhard came in ninth and Woodley finished 13th in his age group.
“I asked the boys what kind of charity they wanted to support for our last race of the season and they both agreed mental health was a worthy cause as that is something we focus on behind the scenes of the Trojan Man program," Woodley wrote
The mental health 5K was a virtual run, which you do on your own, "so we were able to combine that with the Candy Cane 5K and support two great charities at the same time.”
Trojan Man starts before the school year does.
Every Spring, Trojan Man plays Trojan Football Bingo with those in attendance for the fundraiser.
In August, Trojan Man Joneil Oister participated in a Back to School Block Party at Staples in Upload Squad. The Pottstown High School cheerleaders along with the ninth grade went to entertain the crowd and greet people as they entered.
On Oct. 26, the Early Childhood Education program at Pottstown High School held its first Trunk or Treat under the leadership of their teacher, Naimah Rhodes.
"Ms. Rhodes is a big supporter of the Trojan Man program so senior Trojan Man Jonathan Oister wanted to make sure we supported her and her event," according to Woodley.
"This is the first time that Trojan Man dressed up for Halloween as he went to the event as Trojan Clown," he wrote.
On the day of the event, Trojan Man Jonathan mingled with the children in attendance, handing out candy and taking pictures with all the children and even some adults.
This year, in place of the annual toy drive, the Trojan Men hosted a Stuff-a-Stocking Fundraiser. Their goal was to collect enough donations to send each of the 179 students in the Pottstown School District Pre-K program home with a stocking full of goodies before winter break.
During the first weekend in December, Trojan Men Brandon Gebhard and Jonathan Oister accompanied Woodley on a $300 shopping spree at the Dollar Store.
This was the first of seven trips to the Dollar Store that Woodley would make over a two-week time-span to collect all of the necessary items needed to ensure that the Trojan Men reach their goal. Once all of the items were collected, the Trojan Men worked together to organize and stuff 179 stockings.
Trojan Men Jesus Charriez, Dereck and Daniel Darden and Jorge Mundo all helped with the organizing of items to ensure that each classroom had the appropriate amount of toys needed for the number of students in that classroom.
After the organizing of items was done, Trojan Men Jonathan Oister, Brandon Gebhard, Jacob Eagle, Cole Miller and Darion Miller stuffed 179 stockings in one day. There was only one thing left to do; deliver the stockings.
During the last week before winter break, the Trojan Men were very busy.
At the beginning of the week, Santa Trojan Man (Brandon Gebhard), Trojan Man (Darion Miller) and the Trojan Elves (Jacob Eagle and Jonathan Oister) spread cheer around the high school before delivering stockings to the Pre-K Counts classroom that is located in the high school.
The following day, Trojan Man Jesus Charriez visited Franklin Elementary School and the Annex Building, dressed as Santa Trojan Man, to deliver 100 stockings to very excited children.
While Trojan Man Jesus was at the Annex Building, Trojan Man Brandon Gebhard visited Barth and Rupert as Holiday Pajamas Trojan Man to deliver stockings to the Pre-K students in each building.
While at both schools, Trojan Man Brandon participated in Go Noodle dances with the children after they received their stockings and took a class picture.
To end the week, Santa Trojan Man (Brandon Gebhard), Holiday Pajama Pants Trojan Man (Darion Miller) and the Trojan Elves ( Jacob Eagle and Jonathan Oister ) traveled as a group to visit Sarah Rizzuto’s Pre-K class at Lincoln Elementary School.
After receiving their stockings and taking a group picture, Rizutto’s students treated the Trojan Men to holiday rendition of their favorite song, Jingle Bells.
"I feel as though Trojan Man Jonathan summed up the Trojan Man mentality perfectly in his senior project presentation on being Trojan Man when he said, 'I want to leave the world a better place than I found it,'" said Woodley.