It’s All About the Unicorns: New Braunfels High School

A recent survey revealed that over 90% of buyers consider school districts very important when searching for their new home! From academics to area culture to your home’s price point, local schools make a huge difference. Obviously, a school’s reputation is built on more than just academics or neighborhood stereotypes. A public school system is just that: a system...with many parts working together to form a holistic experience.

So what about New Braunfels High School? NBHS is a public high school in the New Braunfels ISD boasting almost 1,700 students. Led by Principal Kara Bock, New Braunfels High School has come to be well known in the area for its academic excellence and more-than-slightly-unique mascot. The school’s Niche Overall Grade was a B+, scoring highest on academics and student diversity, followed closely by teacher excellence and good administration.

So what are the details behind NBHS, its famous unicorn mascot, and the old-as-Texas rivalry with Seguin? We thought we’d start at the beginning...

The History

Much like New Braunfels itself, New Braunfels High School has roots firmly planted in German heritage. According to the Texas Historical Landmark posted outside the original building, the area’s first settlers worked tirelessly with their sponsors to ensure education would begin as soon as possible! It seems parents have always been a fan of the school season.

With no time to spare, students began classes in August of 1845, eventually persuading the local legislature to fund tax dollars into New Braunfels Academy...making it one of the first tax-funded schools in the state! Now a Texas Historic Landmark, the building was eventually vacated in lieu of a newer, more prestigious building in 1913. This new building (now ironically referred to as the “Old New Braunfels High School”) also found its way to Texas Historic Landmark status. Designed by talented San Antonio architects, the Old High School served the district for over fifty years, at which point New Braunfels High School moved to its current facility off of the TX-337 Loop.

The Unicorns

Now for the fun part. We can (and will) gush about New Braunfels High Schools’ athletics, academics, extracurriculars, and even humanitarian efforts...but the piece of this school’s culture that really makes it magical is its other-worldly mascot: the Unicorn. Other than eliciting chuckles and Instagrams from visitors and road-trippers, this longtime mascot of New Braunfels Unicorns has inspired a culture of school spirit that’s truly unlike any other. So how on earth did the school board settle on such a unique mascot? Fortunately, we really don’t have to guess. It turns out the use of the Unicorn as a mascot (beginning in 1928) was a sort of delightful accident.Originally taken from the coat of arms of Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, this blue unicorn in a gold field was a nod to the city’s German roots. However, it was later discovered that the seal had been misinterpreted...the coat of arms had depicted a lion instead! Despite this misunderstanding, the school district has soldiered on with the Unicorn throughout the years...and we aren’t complaining. This unique decision has put New Braunfels on the map, as well as multiple “Weirdest Mascots” lists (Funniest High School Mascots in Texas, Unbelievable High School Mascots, and Oddest High School Mascot in Every State, to name a few...). According to investigations, New Braunfels High School is the only high school in Texas, and probably in the United States, that has the Unicorn for its mascot. Way to find a mascot as unique as you are, New Braunfels.

The Academics

Photo Courtesy of the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung

Naturally, the most important element of a school’s makeup is a culture of academic excellence. Despite Texas’ slight bias towards athletics (we’re looking at you, football season…), the mathlete was the original educational superstar. Thankfully, New Braunfels High School has cultivated an environment that fosters success among its students. New Braunfels has consistently molded graduates who have been named as Scholars, Finalists, Semi-finalists, and Commended by the National Merit Scholarship Program. Scores in math and reading have also risen above the rest, proving to be far above standard (92% and 91% respectively).

Besides the core subjects (Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and English) and AP classes, NBHS offers an extended variety of specialty and career classes ranging from business management to automotive technician to floral design. Students have the option of special topics classes, theater and musical arts, advanced research, and way more.

Overall, the college readiness of students who graduate from NBHS is excellent. New Braunfels High School boasts an above-average graduation rate at about 92% (compared to the national average of 82.2%), and the average ACT score is a full two points above average. Of students that do attend college after graduating from New Braunfels ISD, the schools most attended are Texas State University, University of Texas at Austin, and Texas A&M University. The most popular college majors chosen by these students are (in order of popularity): biology, business, nursing, psychology, and engineering.

The Athletics

Photo Courtesy of My San Antonio

We have to admit: while academics are technically the most important part of a school’s culture, athletics comes in as a close second. Besides providing fitness, hard work, and a competitive edge, athletics foster a sense of sportsmanship and teamwork! The New Braunfels Unicorns compete in cross country, volleyball, football, wrestling, basketball, swimming, powerlifting, soccer, golf, tennis, track, softball & baseball. Noted for their heightened sense of school spirit, the Unicorns have won state titles in baseball, bowling, cross country, soccer, team tennis, track, and volleyball!

New Braunfels High School also claims two area rivalries: Seguin and Canyon. Seguin, the older of the two, is one of the longest continuous rivalries in Texas. The two teams have played every year since 1927, sometimes twice a season in the 1930s and '40s! The Wurst Bowl, a matchup against neighborhood rival Canyon High School, began in 1976. This game is especially heated considering the geography of the two school district: New Braunfels ISD is almost entirely surrounded by Comal ISD. The two are close neighbors and even closer rivals. Though New Braunfels dominated the rivalry for much of its existence, the game is still sure to get everyone’s blood pumping.

Image Courtesy of Brahama News

Besides a legacy of “winning” in the traditional sense, New Braunfels High School has also been the site of a different kind of victory. In January of 2010, after a major earthquake rocked their home turf, the Haiti National Football Team temporarily set up training sessions at New Braunfels High School's stadium. The opportunity proved to be meaningful to both teams.

The Extracurriculars

Besides the ever-important athletic program at New Braunfels High School, a myriad of other extracurricular options are available to students of all areas of interest and expertise!

Clubs and organizations include: various band and choir ensembles, bowling team, cheerleading, drama club, language clubs, geography enthusiast organization, Model UN, National Honor Society, yearbook/newspaper, speech/debate, student council, DECA, Future Educators' Association, and a foreign exchange program, among many, many others.

Notable Alumni

Notably, many New Braunfels High School students have gone on to do incredible things, leaving their growing Texas town with an ever-growing legacy. Distinguished alumni include George E. Nowotny (former Arkansas politician and retired businessman), Leigh Nash (former lead singer of successful band Sixpence None the Richer), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech Red Raiders' head football coach), Marja Tiura (served as a Member of Parliament in Finland and deputy chairman of the Finnish National Coalition Party).

The conclusion? New Braunfels High School is considered a special place. Much like its magical mascot, NBHS instills a sense of wonder and opportunity in its students. The school district’s mission statement explains that each student should feel “engaged and empowered to become self-reliant learners in a constantly changing world." Spread your wings and fly, New Braunfels Unicorns!