Dustin Toth needed a mascot suit.
Getting one was his first task as the principal of Prosper ISD’s second high school, which opens for classes in August. Rock Hill High School’s mascot, the Blue Hawk, hasn’t been used anywhere else in the country, he said. The process of procuring the mascot costume was somewhat involved, even comprising a custom sketch.
“We used a hawk outline, but then we kind of modified what a hawk looks like,” Toth said. “And then the color was different. It's a specific blue color. You had to pick out the fur for it. You had to pick out what the casting was going to look like for the body and everything. I mean, it was a whole process.”
The process of opening a new school involves everything from starting up a school band to establishing a bell schedule. With experience as an administrator in smaller school districts, Toth is used to having a role in many areas of running a school.
“Had I not had experience in a lot of different areas before this, things could have gone a lot differently, and I don't feel like we would have been as far as we are right now,” he said.
Toth got his teaching certification in social studies, but he’s taught a myriad of subjects including psychology, sociology and American history. He’s also served as a head baseball coach. He went into the administrative side of education in 2012 and said he always knew his path would probably lead to administration.
He has also been literally counting down the days until Aug. 12 when Rock Hill High School will be open for its first day of classes.
With no students during the 2019-20 school year, the school has been somewhat on the sidelines of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on education. However, as the next academic year approaches, Rock Hill High School will be looking to see how it might open.
“What I tell the teachers is we're going to open one way or the other,” Toth said. “We just don't know what that's going to actually look like right now.”
Rock Hill High School will be born into the new normal, but that doesn’t mean establishing a sense of school spirit is on hold. Plans for Prom 2021 have begun to take shape. The school hosted a beam-signing event to engage the community. Rock Hill Sports social media accounts are up and running.
Toth said the goal for the first year is to establish a sense of connection and school spirit. During the process of establishing core values when talking with future students, unity became a significant word, he said.
“Our student population's going to be very diverse,” he said. “I think we have over 39 languages that'll be spoken at Rock Hill. I think the kids see that, but then they also see kind of what goes on in our society, and they really want to have a school that's a unified school, and they like the fact that it's going to be a smaller campus.”