Mascot Unveiled: Sparty Shares Secrets of Success
Editor’s note: This article is part of an occasional series designed to highlight student voices and experiences from throughout the district.
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a high school mascot – or how hot, sweaty and smelly it actually gets when wearing a mascot uniform? While Skyline High School senior Krish Khullar might know a thing or two about that experience, he’s also learned some valuable lessons along the way.
“It’s been really fun,” he says as he reflects on his time as Sparty, the mascot role that is coveted by many students at Skyline. In the two years since taking on the role, Khullar has experienced some memorable moments as the face of the school, including “pie-ing” a fellow student, crowd surfing and even volunteering at a COVID-19 vaccination event to help calm and distract participants from feeling discomfort while receiving their shot.
While he’s only served as Sparty for two years, Khullar’s fascination with being a mascot started when he was in middle school. “I would see mascots at Chuck E. Cheese and would tell myself ‘I want to do that.’” He didn't have a chance to live out his mascot dream until his junior year of high school, when his friend and Skyline’s Assembly Director, Gabbie Kluever, offered him the role after the previous mascot performer graduated.
“Krish brings the energy and knows how to hype people up. He understands how to uplift people and engage with them,” Kluever says about Khullar.
Khullar initially liked the idea of being in the spotlight, but as he spent more time in the role, he realized that his motivation was shifting. “I liked the attention, but it changed from doing it to seek attention to wanting to do it to make others happy.”
Khullar values the opportunity to help others know they belong and making people smile. It's something he works on in his everyday life at school whether he's playing Sparty or not. Khullar says he saw students being treated poorly because they were deemed "not cool enough" and it motivated him to help make others feel included.
“You never know how cool a person is until you take the time to meet them. I try to make sure no one feels left out.”
Whether he’s dressed in his mascot gear on the basketball court or as himself in the classroom, Khullar makes use of his opportunities to establish positive relationships with those around him.
Part of this attitude contributes to his bond with family and close friends, who he says always take the time to understand any hardships he may be experiencing. “My family and friends are everything. They’ve always been there for me, which is awesome.”
Khullar also says that support networks of this nature can be found anywhere.
Another community where he found comfort was through the Learning Resource Center II (LRC II) program at Skyline, where Khullar often lends a helping hand and connects with students. “They’re always so happy. I’m an emotional person and I’d do anything for these connections,” he says.
While sharing about his time in this space, he makes the point that not many students – or people – put in the effort to understand students enrolled in the program. Khullar enjoys this type of work.
“There are so many things out there that look easy to do but are hard. You have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes before judging them.”
To show support for his LRC II friends, Khullar recently attended the Shooting Stars basketball game in May – dressed as none other than Sparty.
When Khullar takes on the persona of Sparty, he becomes a representative – or symbol – for the school. Oftentimes, school mascots are meant to build excitement and help students build an emotional connection between themselves and their school; defining the school’s culture and bringing meaning to “school spirit.”
Kluever makes a similar point about school culture, saying that students need a symbol that helps them visualize the idea that they are Spartans. “Much of the culture of Skyline is academic, and Skyline is also known to be competitive, but our mascot brings the fun element of school. Sparty is fun and charismatic. Sparty reminds me that I can act fun even in a school setting,” says Kluever.
She also says that it’s the person behind the mask that makes people like Sparty so much, and that Krish’s consistency and growth in the role has made him a crowd favorite. “With Krish as Sparty, he is enjoyable to be around and merges academics with social. He helps out at community events like events at the elementary schools, cheer dinners, recognition assemblies and sports events. Even in the pouring rain, he is still hyping people up, even when he is not feeling it himself. He is always respectful, with and without the mask. People like Sparty because he treats people with kindness. … And Krish is humble about it – he is always down to help.”
Khullar seems to have made an overall impact at Skyline and neighboring communities.
Skyline math teacher and long-term substitute for Samantha Rossi’s ASB class, Debra Zimmerman, says: “Krish is the best high school mascot I have ever seen. The way he has fun out on the floor and draws the crowd in is remarkable. Before I knew Krish was a student, I thought the mascot was a teacher. He's an expert.”
Khullar even recalls conversations with teachers from other schools who would tell him that he has inspired them to try and get their school a mascot outfit. He also says he’s received messages from fellow student mascots who’ve requested tips and tricks about being successful in the role.
Khullar feels proud of what he’s been able to accomplish as Sparty: “To have done it the right way and be good at it is a great feeling – to know I did something good here.”
After all the time spent as the school mascot and even in the paths leading up to it, Khullar says he has learned one important thing about chasing goals. “If you want to do something, do it.”
Khullar was most recently highlighted at Skyline’s Spring Assembly for his work as Sparty over the years. As part of the assembly, he "unmasked" himself in front of students, receiving cheers from peers as a result.
Next school year, a new era of Sparty will be born. Instead of representing Skyline as a mascot for another year, Khullar will be a freshman once again at a new school. In the fall, he’ll attend Arizona State University, with plans to major in business and minor in film.
Skyline is on the lookout for the next Sparty. Applications for the role of Sparty can be found through Skyline’s ASB Instagram page (@skylinehighasb), at the link in its bio. Tryouts will happen at 9 a.m. on June 14 at Skyline High School.
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