The junior hiding behind the mask



Hernandez combines his background in dance and bright personality to create a compelling mascot persona.


Upon entering his junior year, Orlando Hernandez realized he was looking for something new. He needed to find an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. That’s where the RHS cheer team came into play.

Hernandez took his background in dance and passion for acting and decided to use cheerleading as the newest stage for his talents. 

Unfortunately, he was too late. By the time Hernandez made the decision, cheerleading tryouts had already ended. But the cheerleading coach had something different in mind for Hernandez. Something better.

“The coach said, ‘You can be the mascot though,’” Hernandez said.

Hernandez considered it. If he took on this position, there would be a bright orange tiger suit in his future. Students would shout as he entered the room. He would be the purveyor of school spirit everywhere at RHS. And he would still get to work alongside the cheerleaders.

He took the deal. 

“I was like hmm, okay,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez has already participated in both Intermediate Drama and Dance 1, so signing up to be the mascot and dance with the Cheer Team wasn’t exactly unfamiliar territory for him.

“It feels like I’m just doing more stuff and it’s pretty fun,” Hernandez said. “I enjoy it.” 

Being the Tiger mascot comes with its own set of specific responsibilities. It means he has to attend each football games, and learn dance routines alongside the cheerleaders. It also gave him a chance to make new connections with the cheerleading team as he gets an inside look into how they memorize their routines. 

“I just chill and mess around, and learn the dance routine with them,” Hernandez said. 

His friends and family, who first encouraged Hernandez to take the opportunity, have been supportive of his mascot journey. 

RHS junior Emily Delange is a close friend of Hernandez’s. She believes the role is a perfect fit for him.

“He can really give off the energetic persona that he needs to give off, being the school mascot,” Delange said. “He’s just perfect for the role.”

Delange thinks that the chance to be a mascot will open up new opportunities in Hernandez’s life. There’ll be repercussions outside of experiencing a different part of the Friday night football games – positive ones.

“I think that he will become more included,” Delange said. “He’ll be able to experience and enjoy more of the social aspect.”