Live like Jake, love like Jake


Courtesy of Jesse Smith.

Jake Cassell loved to give back and did so through donating backpacks to Honduras.

By Riley Hurr and Fatima Yazdi

     Jake Cassell was always known for his upbeat personality and contagious smile. Attending our WCHS events as the school mascot, Cassell’s spirit will forever live on in our memories. Cassell had to put a smile on anyone’s face effortlessly, through his kind hugs, high fives and knock knock jokes. The world has a lot to learn from Jake Cassell. 

    “Jake was always very supportive,” sophomore Sophia Schwab said. “He always had a big smile on his face and gave you a hug when you greeted him. He was such a big role model to me because even in the worst of times he was always optimistic.”

    Being on the sidelines at the WCHS football games as a varsity cheerleader, Schwab knew Cassell for about a year. She reflects on their favorite memories together including playing hide and go seek around the school, him always cheering her on when she’s up in a stunt and his morning hugs.  

    “Jake was very spirited and loved cheering at football games and was always interested in learning the cheers,” Schwab said. “Jake will be missed by the WCHS community and me immeasurably.”

    This year, at the first home football game, the varsity cheerleaders wore pins in honor of Cassell as he continued to cheer them on in spirit. 

    Cassell was well known for his high fives and hugs throughout the school day, putting a smile on everyone’s face, brightening up their day. His smile and laugh will be greatly missed each and every day, at every event, both in school and the community.   

    “Jake was always eager to participate in community circles which gave me the courage to participate as well,” junior Emily Abramson said. “From cheering on the football players to supporting theater performances, Jake was there to bring the bulldog spirit that we all needed.”

    The Cassell family has created a scholarship fund in Jake’s name at The Diener School. In late Oct, the WCHS Cheer and Poms team will be hosting a Bulldog Spirit Squad event where a portion of proceeds will be donated to The Diener School in memory of Jake Cassell.  

    “I will never forget him,” Abramson said. “In my mind, he will always be young, sweet, and forever a bulldog.”                   Cassell joined Cabin John Middle School in the seventh grade, where sophomore Lizzie Baggett met him. She looks back on her favorite memories with him and how amazing of a friend he was.

    “Jake was the most optimistic and enthusiastic student person I had ever met,” Baggett said. “He is such an inspiration and truly a ray of sunshine wherever he went. Jake’s the greatest role model and friend you could ask for.”

    In addition to all of his friends, Cassell was also close with the athletic director Jesse Smith. Whether it be practicing as the school mascot or cheering on the poms team, Smith spent lots of time with Cassell. He reflects on his favorite memories with him and how phonomenal of a mascot he was.

    “Jake cared so much about others also,” Smith said. “He loved to serve and loved making people happy regardless if he knew them or not.” 

    Cassell was selfless, bouncing from event to event just to support his fellow classmates. The morning of a Poms competition he was supposed to be attending as the mascot, he also had a Bocce game. 

    “Jake showed up to the bocce match dressed in the costume and played in it,” Smith said. “Every team at the event loved it. Jake played his match and then went straight to the Pom competition and entertained the crowd there. I remember laughing so hard at seeing him dressed in the costume rolling the bocce balls. He was just so proud to be our bulldog.”  

    Always exciting the crowd, cheering on his classmates and giving his famous high fives and hugs, Cassell brought a smile to everyone’s face.

    According to junior Whitney Klein when asked about her best memories with Cassell, she replied with a heartfelt message. “A mascot, by definition, is ‘a person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck or that is used to symbolize a particular event or organization.’ While Merriam Webster Dictionary has its benefits, I believe that Jake Cassell is the definition of a mascot. No matter how far down any sports team was, he would cheer them on, yelling ‘c’mon you can do it’ or the best one ‘go dawgs!’even when the other team scored. And of course, we can’t ever forget his ‘that was awesome!’ attitude whenever he was on the sidelines of a game.”

    Cassell enjoyed his position as the WCHS mascot. With his immense school spirit and constant positive energy he radiated, there is no one else better fit to represent our school and cheer on our athletes.

     “Jake had a spirit about him that is unmatched by any other student at WCHS- his enthusiasm was so pure, and any person that had the chance to meet him holding his bulldog head could tell how much he cared about every single student and how honored he was to be the spirit of WCHS,” Klein said. “The bulldog costume was special, but the boy inside was the spirit and physical being of the bulldog. Jake Cassell is and will always be ‘a person or thing that brings good luck.’”

    Cassell was an example student in every way. He was everything one would want in a friend, student, mascot or classmate so and more. Everybody, no matter their age or role at WCHS, can learn from Cassell.

    “Every single student, myself included, should be encouraged to live a little more like Jake; find hope in the darkest of times, scream “that’s awesome!” whenever anything out of the ordinary happens, and hug anyone and everyone,” Klein said. “Friends and peers of Jake who have grown up in a parallel world but never crossed paths with Jake are so lucky that they had the opportunity to see his joy and enthusiasm to be the bulldog, be making it through high school and keep a smile on his face the entire time.”

    In honor of Cassell, the WCHS SGA sold Superfan shirts for $12 from Sept. 11 through Sept 25. A portion of the proceeds for each shirt sold will be donated to the Diener School in memory of Cassell.

    “This spirit is so special, and though there is a large hole in our hearts, we can begin to fill it with all of his joy,” Klein said. “The last time I saw Jake was the last day of school in my sophomore year. He ran up behind me, buried his head in my shoulder, and hugged me tightly, wishing me an amazing summer. His last words to me were ‘see you next year! I’ll miss you Whitney!’ I miss you too Jake – we all do. Fly high up there.”

    Klein reflects on her memories with Cassell, freshman year, when she was on the JV soccer team, and Cassell was the equipment manager for the football team. 

    “Our practice fields were right next to each other, and he would love to come over just to say hi to me,” Klein said. “About halfway through the soccer season, I severely injured my ankle and was unable to play for a couple of weeks. On one particular day of practice, the pain was too much for me to play on, so I went up to the equipment shed to sit while the teams practiced. Not even five minutes after I sat down, Jake came to sit next to me, just because he didn’t want me to be alone. We just talked about life, high school and what it was like to be part of a WCHS sports team. Jake spent the entire practice sitting with me and shagging balls as an equipment manager for the girls soccer team. He would sit down next to you when you were sad, walk next to you when you needed company, and crack the world’s best knock knock jokes whenever he wanted to make someone smile. Jake was a one of a kind friend, and thanks to him I’ve had so many more smiles than frowns in high school.”

    The world could learn a lot from Cassell, as a student, as a friend and as a role model. We will always keep Cassell in our hearts and memories. 

    “There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t have a smile on his face or a positive thing to say,” Smith said. “If we all looked at life and others the way Jake did, the world would be an amazing place.”