Bulldogs, Timber Wolves, Bears, Frogs, All-Stars, and Alligators, oh my!
These are the mascots of the schools of our Hopewell Valley Regional School District. Some of the schools use official logos that pretty much ignore the mascots, like Bear Tavern and Toll Gate, while others like Central High and Timberlane and Hopewell go all-in on the mascots as their logos, and Stony Brook splits the difference.
See below for a brief summary of each school and its mascots. Some of the mascots play off the school’s name, like “Bear” Tavern, and the Toll “Gator.” Others are more traditional team names, like the Bulldogs and Timber Wolves, while the Stony Brook All-Stars break the mold. And then there’s the Hopewell Frog, with a twist on a historical connection – and now we have the story of where that came from – see below.
We would love to have more information on the creation and evolution of these mascots, and images of different versions of them.
Updated – 1/20/23 – Add Lebbad logos info; 1/29/23 – It’s Rocky the All Star!
Updated – 2/2/23 – Add information about the original of the Toll Gate Gator
UPDATE – The Bulldog and the Timber Wolf logos were designed by Jim Lebbad of Lebbad Design, who also updated the HVRSD shield in 2004 from the original design by Dr. Boyle – See the Lebbad Design logos page.
Hopewell Valley School Mascots
The Hopewell Valley schools and mascots:
- Hopewell Valley Central High School – Bulldogs
- Timberlane Middle School – Timber Wolves
- Bear Tavern Elementary School – Titus the Bear (and bear paw print)
- Hopewell Elementary School – Freddy the Frog
- Stony Brook Elementary School – Rocky the All Star
- Toll Gate Grammar School – Tucker the Gator (also the Toll Gator)
Toll Gate Gator – Tim O’Neill reports on Facebook that the Gator was selected after a school vote around 1989-91. The Toll Gate Bop also was (re)written around that time (“…until we reach the SIXTH grade”), and there also was an election for a now-lost school flag.
The names of our local schools also are interesting. Stony Brook is obvious enough from the stream. And it’s not clear what “Timberlane” refers to??
“Toll Gate” comes from the building on what is now South Main Street in Pennington near the school, which was the residence of a gatekeeper who collected tolls on the Hopewell and Ewing Turnpike in the second half of the 1800s (old Trenton Road to Route 31 to South Main Street). So the logo instead could be a big ogre standing guard at the toll bridge.
And “Bear Tavern” is lauded as one of the most interesting school names in the state, since the name comes from the revolutionary-era drinking establishment in the Washington Crossing State Park area. So today’s logo could use a sketch of a tavern with scattered whiskey bottles. “The fighting flagons!”
Bear Tavern Elementary School
Yes, it’s a school named after a drinking establishment. No, they don’t serve Blue Moon on tap in the cafeteria.
The name dates to the 1700s, when the original one-room school in Titusville was named after Bear Tavern, one of the major landmarks in those days. George Washington’s troops even marched past Bear Tavern after the surprise attack at the Battle of Trenton, a source of pride for the local community.The 10 weirdest school names in New Jersey, NJ.com
Hopewell Elementary Frog
For the Hopewell mascot, Roger Labaw has kindly discovered a Hopewell Elementary School Newsletter from 1979 that describes how the frog was first selected to be used as the school’s logo.
Earlier this year a competition was held at Hopewell Elementary School to come up with a design that would serve as the school’s logo. This logo was to be imprinted on the school T-Shirts and on an official banner. The judging was set up and coordinated by Miss Kathleen Brennan, School Librarian.
The winning entry was a drawing of a Frog portrayed by Laura Hostetter, a second grader at the school. The second place winner was Jennifer Kraus, a fifth grader, and honorable mention went to Jennifer Consoli in grade one.
Laura selected the Frog because of its place in Hopewell’s history.
The following information on Hopewell’s great Frog War was excerpted from the N. J. Sampler.
Sleepy little Hopewell came alive with a bang on the frosty evening of January 5, 1876. Out on the plains, west of the village, the incessant bleating of a locomotive whistle meant only one thing: the long, smoldering Frog War had flamed into violence. …For more, see the Hopewell Elementary School Newsletter,, June 14, 1979 (PDF)
Please contact us if you have more information or materials to share on the local school mascots, or on Hopewell area history in general.
More on the Frog War
The “Frog War” is the name of the confrontation that took place on January 5 and 6, 1876 at a railroad crossing just south of Hopewell Borough, as the Delaware & Bound Brook Railroad (D&BB) needed to construct a “frog” so that the tracks of its new line could cross the existing tracks of the Mercer & Somerset Railroad (M&S). After a violent confrontation, the D&BB succeeded, and brought two rail lines across the Hopewell Valley.
The Frog War (1876)
- The “Frog War” in Hopewell – with references on the event and the railway
- The Railroads of the Frog War – with newspaper articles and more on the competing railroad lines
- Article – The Mercer & Somerset Railroad and a Frog War” by John Kilbride (2016)
- Article – “Battle of the Frogs” (reprint of Sunday Times-Advertiser, April 30, 1916)
- Presentation / Video – The Mercer and Somerset Story and The Frog War – tracing the M&S route