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A mascot with an ecological and cultural legacy: The Maui Prep Pueo

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

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Unsurprisingly, Maui Prep hosts plenty of top swimmers — Maui Prep

Unsurprisingly, Maui Prep hosts plenty of top swimmers — Maui Prep

Leave it to the island air of Hawaii to prove a powerful setting for fantastic mascots. America’s farthest Western state is full of them.

Still, none can compete with the state’s best, the Maui (Hi.) Prep Pueo, a mascot named in honor of an animal that has chosen to base itself almost solely right in the backyard of the school’s athletic facilities.

The Pueo Owl, like many fantastic Pacific creatures, is a rare sight. In fact, it’s so rare that it has chosen just one spot on Maui, the “big island” of Hawaii, to make a home. Wouldn’t you know that particular spot happens to be immediately surrounding the Maui Prep campus.

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Mascot Quest 2013 — Flickr

In fact, the Pueo reportedly are particularly fond of the fence surrounding Maui Prep, perching on the retaining perimeter and greeting student athletes as they trot off the field.

If that isn’t an image befitting a Hawaiian academic institution, we don’t know what is.

Add in the symbolic importance of the Pueo in Hawaiian culture -- USA Today notes that Pueo are considered guardian spirits of Hawaiians and are a symbol of “wisdom and knowledge” -- and it’s hard to find a more appropriate mascot.

Other Great Hawaii Mascots of Note:

The Pueo aren’t alone. Check out these fantastic island mascots.

In most states, the Kailua (Hi.) High Surfriders or Kailua-Kona (Hi.) Kealakehe High Waveriders would be considered standout school symbols. But remember: This is Hawaii, where surfing is both a sport, tradition and way of life. If there weren’t at least two Hawaii schools honoring surfing with their mascots, Prep Rally would be disappointed … not that their existence makes the Waveriders or Surfriders a less cool choice. Any time a surf guitarist like Dick Dale can serve as a potential fight song, a school has something going for it.

If you think the Pine Lads of Lanai (Hi.) High are named in honor of pine trees, think again. Remember, this is a giant island. Instead, the Pine Lads -- and Lasses for the ladies -- are named in honor of Lanai’s heritage as the island’s largest pineapple plantation.

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