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Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Mr. Sneakers: Alexandria City’s True Mascot

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“We are the Titans” is no more.

Salma El Gourchal

Staff Writer

Mr. Sneakers is one of Alexandria City High School’s greatest anomalies. You might have seen him in someone’s hand while walking to the bathroom, scaring people crossing its path, or even thrown in the bushes by Parker Grey Stadium by sophomores who want to get rid of the infamous taxidermied squirrel. Many ACHS students, current and past, will have Mr. Sneakers etched in their minds forever. Is that a good thing? Only time will tell, but it’s certainly something.

The taxidermied squirrel hails from A210 as English 10 teacher Jeff Cunningham’s bathroom pass. Mr. Sneakers became a staple of ACHS during the late 1990s after a parent killed and subsequently taxidermied the squirrel after it attempted to steal bird food. It made its way to 3330 King Street after the man’s daughter brought the squirrel into Cunningham’s English class for a creative writing assignment. She left the squirrel with Cunningham, and Mr. Sneakers hasn’t left ACHS since. It was probably for the best. 

“He is his own squirrel; he has a strong sense of school spirit,” said Cunningham about his furry friend. “His favorite movies are Remember the Titans, The Nut Job and the Ice Age movies.”

In his school ID picture, Jeff Cunningham poses with Mr. Sneakers

Mr. Sneakers is quite the discussion topic among students. Junior Vivian Roman says the squirrel is cute and is a great addition to the classroom. “I love him,” she said. 

Some, however, don’t share the same affection.

“It’s weird,” said junior Jules Malleck. 

Mr. Sneakers is best known for being the hall pass for Cunningham’s students to use when they go to the bathroom, get a sip of water, or visit the office.

“[It’s] actually quite genius,” said senior August Taylor.

Even ACHS alumni still remember Mr. Sneakers.

“It was quirky, but it was Cunningham’s squirrel,” said Titan alum Leonard Barrett.

But Mr. Sneakers isn’t only known among students.

After hearing about the squirrel for the first time, Social Studies teacher Mr. Ra’Alim Shabazz burst out in laughter. 

“I’m not even sure if that is sanitary,” he said.

Patrick Deville, another ACHS teacher, was in utter confusion about Mr. Sneakers. 

“Just why?” Deville asked. “Was it roadkill? Was it a meal that turned bad? What elaborate trap did Mr. Cunningham set up to acquire Mr. Sneakers? Why the name ‘Mr. Sneakers?”. Some questions just never have answers. 

Even students outside of ACHS had something to say after discovering Mr. Sneakers. 

“Bro, what the heck is that?” asked Ali Lakta, a senior at George C. Marshall High School in Fairfax, Virginia, upon seeing Mr. Sneakers for the first time (a very valid response). “That’s actually funny.”

Alexandra Bobadilla, a senior at Garfield Senior High School in Woodbridge, Virginia, found the idea of a taxidermied squirrel bathroom pass cute and comedic. 

“It’s a little frightening but cute,” she said. 

Sadly, Mr. Sneakers’s time at ACHS has come to an end after a historic twenty-five-year run. With Mr. Cunningham’s retirement at the end of this school year, Mr. Sneakers will also be retiring. Cunningham held a ‘Mr. Sneakers essay contest’ for his students, and the winner will be taking Mr. Sneakers home for the rest of his sweet taxidermied life (he’s probably going to last a WHILE).

As he prepares for retirement and a new home, Mr. Sneakers is currently locked in one of Cunningham’s cabinets alongside a gold trophy he won after being crowned the  ‘Hall Pass Madness’ grand champion by the ACHS Librarians.

“Man, enjoy your squirrel retirement my friend,” Cunningham said. “I wish you nothing but a fresh bag of nuts for you and a holiday of good times.”

Mr. Sneakers poses with his ‘Hall Pass Madness’ award

Cunningham, who has taught at ACHS for thirty years, says that the school now is different from when he first began teaching.

“Teaching here has been eventful. This place changed so much; it’s insane,” he said. “I don’t know how to explain it.

While Mr. Sneakers is going to be sent off in the care of a sophomore—  which might not be the best brightest idea, but who’s to say?— Cunningham plans to travel around the world during his retirement— specifically, Asia and East Europe. For the rest of the year, Mr. Chompy, a taxidermied piranha, is replacing Mr. Sneakers as the A210 hall pass. 

Both Cunningham and Mr. Sneakers will be greatly missed by the Titan community.

Mr. Chompy, the taxidermied piranha, is A210’s current hall pass

All photos by Salma El Gourchal for Theogony

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