On Friday Aug. 18, spirited students and active members of the OH community came out to Ken Pickerill stadium to show off their Panther Pride. The crowds gathered to cheer at sporting events showcasing the OH fall athletes and to participate in activities at lively booths hosted by OH clubs, athletics, and other vendors.

“It is a community event to kick off both the beginning of the school year and the beginning of the athletic season. It is free admission and is geared towards family fun for all,” OHS Athletic Director Darren Howard said. 

Pantherfest began at 4:30pm with a packed schedule involving a variety of OH extracurricular programs:

The Pantherfest official schedule that explains the times of athletic games and performances.

This year is the 15th anniversary of the event and it has grown in both size and scope over the years. Many OHS seniors have attended the event each year of high school and can see a difference in the turnout for the 2023-24 year. 

“It was my understanding that this was a record turnout,” Kelly Berkson, the Vice President of community relations for the OHS All Sports Booster club, said.

The successful size of the crowd can be attributed to the hard work put in by the OHS All Sports Boosters, who worked to advertise, coordinate, and execute the event. 

The OHS All Sports Boosters Club works throughout the year to raise money to support the OH athletic program. In addition to organizing Pantherfest, they sell concessions and spirit wear at many of the OH sporting events. 

According to Berkson, the Booster Club provided 11 vendor booths, including Huntington Bank and the military, as well as 15 booths hosted by OH athletic programs. Along with these booths, the event had food vendors that helped raise additional profits.  

“They have gotten community members and businesses involved and all sports teams from all seasons, as well as some clubs, are involved,” Howard said. People all throughout the community got involved in the effort by volunteering and helping out the OH All Sports Boosters as well.

From Commotion to Wrestling, Pantherfest had booths to cater to the interests and talents of all students at OH. Many booths included activities for the crowd in hopes of promoting their programs and gaining new members for the upcoming school year. 

“There’s a lot of fun games and if you’re trying to learn about extracurriculars there’s a lot of cool information about them,” freshman Ava Stellmach said.

One booth that stood out to OH students and children in the community was the Robotics team’s booth. 

“We brought a couple of our robots that we’ve brought to a couple competitions in the past. Here at Pantherfest we have some catapults that we’re letting the kids make” junior Jaidyn Lagrange, electrical captain of the Robotics team, said. 

At the booth, young children were shown the team’s robots and were given the opportunity to play with and build STEM kits for elementary schoolers. 

“I find it fun that we’ve had a lot of kids come and make catapults so far, so I think it’s going well,” Lagrange said.

Not only were students running booths, but OH parents were also joining the effort.

“We are here representing Senior celebration,” Todd Mielcarz said. “We’re trying to get parents aware of the ways that they can get involved so that the senior celebration for the class of 2024 is the best one yet.”

This year was Mielcarz’s first year working at Pantherfest and he couldn’t help but notice the community involvement and large turnout for this year’s crowd. The greatest part of Pantherfest is that participation is not limited to OH students and their families, but instead it is open to the entire community. 

“It brings us together as one,” Howard said. “Sometimes we tend to get lost in what we are doing and forget that our whole school community are Panthers Together.”

In addition to learning about STEM at the Robotics table, elementary schoolers in the district were able to play games and win prizes at the booths of athletic programs here at OH. 

”I did baseball and I did the hitting game,” third grader and aspiring OH athlete, Noah Foulk said. 

Pantherfest was filled with activities and games for the children, including: a dunk tank, bouncy house, soccer ball dart board, and bowling.

“We like coming out to Pantherfest and supporting our home team,” Kari Foulk said. “Our little guys get to come and wear their jerseys so we like that.”

Noah was not the only one showing off his Panther Pride in his orange and blue jersey. Many players for Oswego Youth Tackle Football (OYTF) came in support of the Panthers as well. 

“It’s a pretty good organization. I love it a lot,” eighth grader Layla Boiling said. 

Boiling and her friends were most excited to watch the OH Varsity Football scrimmage and, like many incoming OH students, are excited to get involved in the many programs that OH has to offer their freshmen year. 

Pantherfest provides an opportunity for all members of the Panther community to get involved, and opens up students’ eyes to the extracurricular activities that are available here for them at OH. 

“I hope all our Panthers come out this school year to try out for a team, join a club or activity, or be a fan of our teams at our events,” Howard said. “Get involved as much as you can!”

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My name is Natalie Raabe and I am a senior at Oswego High School. This is my second year as a member of the 42fifty team and I serve as a Managing Editor and the Features Section Leader. Additionally, I am a member of the BIONIC board, NHS, Best Buddies, SNHS, NEHS, Rho Kappa, and Mu Alpha Theta.



  1. Ummm eight quoted sources in an August article that was written and published within a week of the event???? Natalie Pulitzer over here

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