Tag Archives: Traveler

Traveler Visits McKinley Elementary Ahead of USC – UCLA Game

Photo By: Kelsie Hernandez

On Thursday, November 16th, staff and students at William McKinley Elementary school participated in their annual College Rivalry Day. The day centers around another big event that takes place every November: USC vs. UCLA.

During the class recess, students were encouraged to go out the playground where they were able to take part in a variety of activities. The majority of the students each had on shirts or jerseys representing their favorite team. To help kids get into the spirt of Los Angeles’ Crosstown Rivalry, two large speakers were set up on the far side of the field. The speakers played one of College Football’s most iconic songs, Tribute to Troy, which is USC’s fight song. As the fight song played, kids ran relay races, threw footballs, visited booths to representing each college, and waited in line to pet USC’s official mascot, Traveler, who was also there in attendance.

The storied history behind Traveler began in 1961, when he and his rider appeared in USC’s first home game of that season against Georgia Tech. As the story goes, USC’s director of special events saw Richard Saukko riding his white horse, Traveler I, during the 1961 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. By the fall of that year, Saukko and his horse were doing laps inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. From 1961 to 1988, Saukko himself would train and ride each iteration of Traveler. After his death, the Saukko family continued the tradition until 2003. Starting in 2003, Joanne Asman took over seeing the tradition through. Since the original Traveler in 1961, there have been several iterations of USC’s mascot, with the current horse, named Traveler IX, completing its first football season this year.

Photo By: Kelsie Hernandez

This year, Raymond Juarez, a parent who has children attending William McKinley Elementary, organized the event. Juarez, who also organized the event last year, said his favorite thing about putting the event together is “getting the college exposure to the kids and just making sure they’re exposed to the two powerhouse colleges that we have here – UCLA and USC – and just to build that college experience that hopefully they’ll have later on.”

The program, which is over six years old, is always planned for the Thursday before the big game, but is not limited to just USC or UCLA school spirt. Much of the staff also sported different college tees, increasing the exposure of a variety of universities among the young students. According to Juarez, past organizers and his team always try to help from outside resources to make the event special for the kids. “Our big help is the Burbank Print Center,” said Juarez, “Joanne and her team really helps us out, and we do reach out to UCLA and USC, to try to get any items from them.”

At the end of the day, the program was a success. “The McKinley school community had a great time meeting Traveler, the team, and adding to great USC and UCLA memories”, said Juarez.

USC is set to host UCLA at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 PM, PST, and will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN. USC leads the overall record between the two teams at 48-31-7.


McKinley Elementary Rivalry Day Celebrates UCLA-USC Fun

Students at William McKinley Elementary School enjoyed fun and games during the annual Rivalry Day event on Thursday, November 19. Many children dressed in UCLA or USC t-shirts or red or blue colors to represent their chosen team for McKinley Elementary Rivalry Day.

Kids ran relay races with UCLA and USC footballs and got to meet visiting USC mascots Tommy Trojan and his horse, Traveler. Rivalry Day is put on every year by the McKinley PTA, whose volunteers also handed out stickers representing the two universities.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“All of this is part of McKinley’s College Month, which is celebrated every November with events and a field trip,” explained McKinley Principal Liz Costella. “At the beginning of November, there is ‘College Day,’ in which the kids wear t-shirts from any college of their choice and make pennants at recess.”

“The PTA takes pictures of the children, turns them into posters which say, ‘We’re going to college! Where will YOU go?’ and hang the posters in the hallways at McKinley.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“At the end of the month, the fifth graders go on a field trip to UCLA, where they tour the campus and see what a wonderful university they have in their own backyard,” Costella added. “McKinley students also learn to save for college, by donating to the McKinley Alumni scholarship fund all month.”

“In the spring, McKinley gives at least one sizeable scholarship to a Burroughs senior who attended McKinley and who is continuing to college. After they’re chosen, the recipients come back to McKinley for an assembly where they give inspiring speeches and answer questions from the students.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Former McKinley PTA President and current membership chair, Jenny Harris, also co-chaired Rivalry Day and College Month activities.

“Children who start believing that college is an attainable goal when they are in elementary school are more likely to see it as a reality for their futures,” said Harris. “Some kids love academics. Some kids love sports. We want kids to get excited about college, no matter what their interests are.”

“When it comes time to decide whether to go to college or not, we hope that our McKinley kids, who have been thinking about college since kindergarten, will be excited and prepared to go,” she added.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Harris and Costella  expressed gratitude towards Hector Aguilar, who portrays Tommy Trojan, and “interacted wonderfully with the students.” They also expressed thanks to Burbank resident Joanne Asman. Asman, whose grand-daughter attends McKinley, owns Traveler and she and her team transported the horse to the school for the event.


No Horsing Around at ‘Rivalry Day’ at McKinley Elementary School

USC mascot Traveler shows his gentle side at McKinley Elementary School. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

This past week McKinley Elementary School held their ‘Rivalry Day’ with the idea that even while attending elementary school you can start thinking about colleges.

Kids played relay games and even got to pet Traveler, the real USC Mascot.  Traveler who is owned by Burbank resident Joanne Asman and is ridden by Hector Aguilar, who is also a Burbank resident and former Burroughs High student.

USC made sure they were well represented (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The idea of rivalry day came about a couple of years ago during a parent teacher meeting when a teacher and a parent were brainstorming how to get elementary students to think about their future. The days not only involve the fun & games, but the kids also collect funds for a scholarship program for McKinley grads who after high school decide to go on to a college of their choice and can submit an application for use of the student funds collected.

USC -UCLA Rivalry lives right here at McKinley Elementary School. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)