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The trouble with tradition: A Manatee High perspective

At Manatee High School, tradition is one of the cornerstones of our foundation. But with such a long and storied history, it becomes hard to maintain what once was. Unlike most high schools that have one chant and one symbol for the school, Manatee has gone through many over the years.

The chants

Since 1947, when Manatee adopted the “Hurricanes” as our mascot, students and teachers have been creating cheers, chants and slogans. The most popular are “Go Canes Go,” “Cane Pride Never Dies,” “Welcome to Cane Country” and “We are ... Manatee.”

Our vast history has churned out these great cheers and slogans and afforded us with such a great selection to use.

Jackie Bolen, a Manatee High math teacher and former Sugar ’Cane knew the most prevalent cheer.

“ ‘Go Canes Go’ was the biggest one,” Bolen said.

Our principal recently created “THE” -- “Tradition, Hurricanes, Excellence” -- and it has become popular and almost natural to write it anytime before “Manatee.” Mrs. Law, a Manatee High English teacher and former student, is happy to have the “THE” title in front of our school.

“I really like the ‘THE’ Manatee High, now that we have that; that was Mr. Gagnon’s idea,” Law said.

The symbol

In the course of Manatee High, there have been three symbols of the school. The first symbol was an oblong shape that had an M, C, H and S (representing Manatee County High School). Later, the symbol was made without the “C”. Law misses the school symbol.

“That’s been kind of dropped, but it was on my class ring. It’s a very pretty crest. To me, it’s timeless,” she said.

This crest served as the face of Manatee until the late ’60s, when our mascot, Billy Blow Hard, became the image of the school. He was everywhere. Billy was painted on peoples’ faces, in the middle of the football field, on yearbooks, on all school T-shirts, and even on watches. Some time in the ’90s or 2000s, Billy was phased out and replaced with the “M,” hurricane flags crossed behind it. Now when students think of Manatee, they picture the trademark that graces our walls, ID’s, golf carts and football field.

The stadium

In the beginning, the bleachers “the away” side sits on now was the home side. Some time in the 1950s, the sides switched, and we continue to sit on that side today. The announcer’s booth, on the away side has had different slogans on it over the years. The earliest was a sign on the top of the booth that said, “Home of the Fighting Canes.” Then after the new booth was built, “Cane Country” was painted on and eventually changed to what is painted now, “We Are ... Manatee.”

Mrs. Boone, a Manatee High Spanish teacher and former student, remembers other paintings on the wall below the home side bleachers.

“In the middle of the 2000s, the principal that was here, Principal Asher, painted phrases along the bottom of the stands,” she said. “It had things like ‘Go Canes Go’ and it even said ‘Marching Canes’ where the band performed.”

The uniforms

Our football players, cheerleaders, Sugar ’Canes and marching band have gone through myriad uniforms, but regardless of the number, they were all at one point very different from the ones we have today. The varsity football jerseys have gone from red to blue and then back to red, and they once said “Canes” across the front, instead of what is now “Manatee.”

The cheerleaders’ and Sugar ’Canes’ uniform lengths have changed, as well as the type of designs on them. The marching band’s colors and style changes every couple of years.

But there are also traditions that have remained the same for our entire history; our powerhouse of a football team, our best-in-state cheerleaders, our nationally ranked Sugar ’Canes, our superior-rated marching band, our rigorous academic programs and our state-of-the-art campus.

It’s something undeniable, it’s called a “Tradition of Excellence.”

About the writer

Taylor Zeisloft, sophomore, Manatee High School

Activities: He’s involved in Key Club, Student Council, Sophomore Class Board, Foreign Language Club, FBLA, Macohi and the AP Plus Program.

Favorite quote: “The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is.” -- Warren Buffett

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