Every week in partnership with the Tulare County Office of Education, we tell stories about South Valley students with awesome character.
School mascot, Willy the Wildcat, is a welcome sight on the campus of Cutler Elementary School in Cutler.
Wherever Willy goes, you’ll see kids smile, hug, and high five this giant cat.
But it’s who is underneath the wildcat suit that makes the mascot even more likeable — it’s 5th grader Juan Gonzalez Rojo.
“It feels nice to walk around high five kids and hug kids,” Juan said. “It makes me feel great that I am helping the school and make kids feel nice.”
Juan takes time out of his school schedule and his own personal time to dress up in the wildcat costume to help his school out.
“He definitely stepped in and helped us out,” said Cutler Elementary School Principal, Leanne Cerda. “He does all our award assemblies. He comes in for Open House Night. Carnivals. He is always ready to put on the costume and do his thing.”
Doing his thing means dancing on command, passing out treats, and greeting both students and adults alike.
“He makes everyone feel happy and if the crowd tells him to do something he does it and makes everyone happy,” Jonathan Barajas said — Juan’s 5th grade classmate.
The man behind the mask represents what Cutler Elementary is all about.
Prinicipal Cerda adds:
“Juan’s character he is a student that follows the wildcat way everyday. He shows respect, he makes good decisions, and he solves problems. We want all our kids to do that and by doing that they are productive citizens.”
A great show of citizenship, but for Juan, it’s simply an honor to wear the costume and step into the character of being Willy.
“He walks around the campus of the school. High fives kids. Shakes hands. Dances around. Acts silly,” Juan said about Willy.
A loveable and happy big cat with a big heart.
Juan Gonzalez Rojo of Cutler Elementary School shows us why Your Character Matters.