When Apex Friendship High School opens this fall, it will have a mascot to rally behind and school colors that are ready to fly.
The Patriots name was chosen as the school’s mascot by some of Apex Friendship’s future students. The school colors will be navy blue and red.
Principal Matt Wight said finding a color combination that is unique to the Wake County area was important. No high school in southwestern Wake County uses navy blue. Some other Wake County high schools have navy blue, but they pair it with silver instead of red.
“We wanted something that was flexible, no matter what mascot was picked,” Wight said. “The other advice I got was to stay away from trendy colors like the teals and other sort of odd shades that have become incorporated with some sports teams. They don’t hold up very well.”
After the colors were decided – early enough to get the color scheme right for the building – the nickname was next.
Wight formed a panel of about 20 future Apex Friendship students, who are coming from Apex, Panther Creek and Holly Springs high schools. They had an opportunity to make a major decision in their school’s future.
The Patriots name was picked before the Super Bowl outcome with the victorious New England Patriots.
Finalists included the Firebirds, Phoenix and Rattlesnakes, but Wight was glad the students chose Patriots.
“That’s the one I would have gone with if it was my choice,” he said. “We’ve gotten a little bit of kidding about Friendship. And you know, it is a little touchy-feely, so I really hoped we would come up with a (mascot) name with some substance to it. Something that was not whimsical. ... Something of substance for people to get behind was important.”
Apex Friendship’s name combines the town of Apex with the nearby unincorporated area of Friendship, which is a historic, rural and unincorporated community off Old U.S. 1.
Friendship formed in the mid-1800s as a peaceful place for whites, blacks and Native Americans to co-exist, according to local history books. Wight said the Patriots name resonated with him, given the area’s historical background.
“I think the Patriots name ties into the Friendship history, and I think that gives us a good foundation to build the school off of,” said Matt Clifton, Apex Friendship’s new athletics director.
“I think that’ll help tie the whole aspect of the Friendship community in, because it helps bring in a little bit of the history of the community and how the community was formed,” he said. “It gives a good strong mascot to go with that.”
The Friendship part of the school’s name has elicited some off-the-wall mascot suggestions, Wight said.
“My principal friends were the worst,” Wight said. “But it was all good-natured.”
Though not a reason for selection, the Patriots will be a break from the animal names used in the southwestern Wake area, where (Middle Creek) Mustangs gallop, (Panther Creek) Catamounts, (Fuquay-Varina) Bengals and (Apex) Cougars roam while (Holly Springs) Golden Hawks and (Green Hope) Falcons fly high.
Apex Friendship’s athletics teams will play against those schools, the Athens Drive Jaguars and the Cary Imps in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference this fall.
Clifton was hired as the school’s first athletics director two weeks ago. The school will have just freshmen and sophomores for the first year but will field varsity teams in all sports except football, which will be JV only. The school will eventually expand to 2,289 students.
Already, Clifton has heard positive feedback from the students at Holly Springs, one of three high schools whose districts will be impacted by Apex Friendship.
“The kids are giving me a little bit of grief at school about the Friendship name, but when you tie the Patriots behind it ... they really like that,” Clifton said. “I showed it to a couple of kids that I teach and they really like the color scheme and they really like the logo itself.”