The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

Regan the Rat

Art by Emily Dow



Everyone knows that our school mascot is a Dragon. I mean, there’s a giant dragon head on the B floor purple pipe, and every so often, during a C-Day, some poor track kid in a dragon costume is tasked with entertaining the entire school. But what you may not know is that the dragon mascot wasn’t the first. If you went back in time to the very beginning of our school’s history, any MSE student or teacher could tell you, without a single sliver of hesitation, that the mascot of HSMSE was none other than Reagan the Rat.


Let’s go back—way back. It is the year 2002. Boy bands, flip phones, and dial up internet are all the rage, and HSMSE has just been created as a specialized high school on the campus of CCNY. It was cool, if not for the lack of an actual building. For the first 2 years of the school’s existence, MSE consisted of just a few red trailers on the edge of CCNY campus. To quote an alumni I was talking to a couple years ago, “It was strange. During the winter we used to have snowball fights when we were walking to and from different classes, and there were barely any bathrooms.” The trailer situation was expected to only be temporary, but as weeks turned to months, and months turned into years, people got annoyed. However, there was one thing that brightened people’s lives during this time. This is the untold, forgotten story of Reagan the Rat. 


On a cold wintery day in the cellar of Baskerville Hall, a rat colony was disturbed by some urban explorers. Hundreds of rats swarmed out of the cellar. The urban explorers were already terrified, but the emergence of a giant, 6 foot tall rat standing on its hind legs sent them hurtling to the hospital out of sheer fear. The aforementioned rat, being terrified by the light and the heat, now stumbled around campus, terrifying people passing by. This rat would eventually find his way into HSMSE, right into the World History trailer. “I was just talking about the effects of the Mongol Empire, and then all of a sudden this giant rat bursts in and just stands there. I don’t think anyone noticed, and I didn’t even pay it much attention for the first few hours it was standing there. I mean, can you blame me? It was 2 pm on a Tuesday, and I had like 3 hours of sleep,” the World History teacher said when questioned on the topic. Eventually, during sixth period, when he was packing up, he found that all of his tests and essays were graded; each with their own personal commentary. Confused, he looked up from the pile of tests to see the giant Rat with a red pen in its hand-like paw. He thought of numerous names that would fit a giant, stinky rat, just when a poster of former U.S President Ronald Reagan caught his eye. And then the name came to him: he proclaimed, “I shall call you…Reagan.”


From that point on, Reagan the Rat was a staple of the World History class, sitting in the front and grading papers. He smelled like death, but the stench actually managed to keep students awake and alert. During lunch, he’d scuttle between the trailers, greeting teachers, upperclassmen, and scaring freshmen to death. He grew to be a staple of the entire community. “Reagan made me realize that this school wasn’t just the Stuyvesant reject academy. We were our own thing. Stuy WISHES that they had a giant rat!” An alumni later affirmed. Reagan managed to keep spirits high in MSE during a period of uncertainty and sadness. Early merch from MSE had Reagan’s face printed on it. The school teams changed their name to the “HSMSE Rats”, a step up from their previous name, The Mathematicians. Reagan also began to become well known among the CCNY students. From Shepard Hall to the NAC, Reagan roamed, helping out professors with grading papers and giving free tutoring lessons to students, silently writing out and solving complicated problems on the chalkboards. Reagan couldn’t speak, but it was okay, as everyone immediately understood what he was teaching.


However, as the months went on, HSMSE students became restless. CCNY still hadn’t given them a building, so they started doing some not-too-nice things to the campus: littering, drawing creepy smiley faces in the hallways and bathrooms, and generally just being disrespectful. This got progressively worse until all the CCNY students and teachers united and agreed that they needed to teach the MSE students some respect. At the same time, HSMSE students and teachers agreed that the trailer situation needed to be resolved, and they would take a final stand to get an actual school building. And of course, they coincidentally chose the exact same time and place to meet up; October 23, 2004, at 3:47 PM, on the quad.

The fateful date and time finally came, and hundreds, if not thousands of students and faculty from CCNY descended onto campus, not knowing that their opponents were organizing too. To quote an HSMSE alumni, “We were shocked that all of the CCNY people were there too, and from the looks on their faces, so were they. We immediately organized into two sides of the quad directly facing each other, and prepared for the ultimate showdown.” On one side of the quad, the MSE students and teachers, and on the other, CCNY students and teachers. After 2 hours of just staring at each other, the tension was insane. But then, something happened. A horrible stench flooded the noses of everyone there, but they all smiled, knowing exactly who it was. Everyone collectively looked towards Amsterdam Avenue, and saw Reagan, scampering towards the quad. He stopped, in between the two sides, and had a somber, sad look in his eyes that no one had ever seen before. And then, for the first time ever, he began to speak: 


“What is the point of this struggle? Why even fight in the first place? This is one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. It has more than enough room for everyone, be they High Schoolers or College Students. I have seen you all for who you truly are, and you are far above this. I know that it’s a difficult time, but please try and understand. We are all human, after all!” And then he died.


“We didn’t even look to see if he was ok at first, we were just shocked that he said words in English” an alumni said. But Reagan had died, seemingly of a broken heart, and as the realization hit, everyone looked in sadness, in shock, in horror. Their conflict had resulted in the death of a beautiful, giant, smelly creature who had only wanted to help others, grade papers, and bring joy into people’s lives. The two sides took a look at each other, and it was suddenly like looking into a mirror.  They saw no enemies in the reflection, but rather a bunch of tired people—just like them. Within the span of 2.35 seconds, they saw past all of their misunderstandings, came in a big embrace, and made peace.


In honor of Reagan’s sacrifice, CCNY finally gave MSE their own building (or half a building at least) in Baskerville Hall. The MSE students also became much more respectful to the campus and to the students and faculty, and vice versa. But alas, Reagan slowly became forgotten, because the idea of a giant talking rat saving the school is a bit far fetched. As people forgot their mascot, the new faculty of the school spun a wheel to decide which mascot they should have, landing on a dragon. The few people who do remember Reagan mostly keep their memories to themselves, in fear of being ridiculed. But nevertheless, traces of him remain in our school. In the World History classroom, the poster of Former U.S President Ronald Reagan still hangs. Hopefully HSMSE remembers Reagan the Rat again, his sacrifices, his kindness, and most importantly, his smell.

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