Relocation of major artifacts symbolizes change of school site from Pike to AcademyACL
One was a large print of the famous engraving of Zebulon Pike by Charles Wilson Peale, which had been presented to the school by Westside historian Kenneth Englert when it opened in 1956.
The other was a life-size, sword-waving pirate sculpture, personifying the school mascot. Created by Charles Green, a former Pike student whose kids also went to the school, the welded-steel figure had been set on a concrete block in front of the entrance in 1993.
But over the past year or so, as AcademyACL continues
The former is now hanging on a wall at the recently opened District 11 Museum - a roughly 800-square-foot room in the district's Tesla building (a former school itself, now an administrative facility) off Printers Parkway. Mostly items on shelves, the museum houses a few pieces of memorabilia from many of its schools. Among those represented are former Westside schools Washington and Whittier, which the district also closed in 2009.
The pirate is currently an orphan, however. Estimated to weigh about two tons, it proved to be too heavy for the museum floor, according to Katherine Ritchie Rapp, District 11 director of archives and records. For now, the sculpture is sitting in a secured lot at the D-11 Facilities Operation Transportation Center on the city's east side (off Galley Road west of Powers Boulevard).
The hope is to relocate the pirate permanently to another school where the theme might fit. “We're talking to Russell Middle School,” Rapp said. “Their mascot is a raider.” If that doesn't work out, there are other D-11 schools with similar nicknames. “The district is trying to find a good home for the pirate,” she summarized.
Charles Green, who still lives in the former Pike attendance area, told the Westside Pioneer he's OK with the relocation. It won't even be the first time something like that has happened to him. Before Pike, Green had attended Lincoln Elementary. He later created a sculpture for that school as well. Now Lincoln too has closed (after 2013), and its sculpture (a panther) has moved to Penrose Elementary.
“It's funny how those schools keep changing and moving around,” Green said, referring to D-11's efforts to absorb steady enrollment drops in recent years.
Manuel Ramsey, the last of Pike's principals (now head of Bristol Elementary), said he understands why AcademyACL would not want a pirate in front of its school when that's not its mascot. He even admitted having mixed feelings during his six-year span there. “It's obviously an excellent piece of artwork, and it is
As part of establishing its identity, AcademyACL has embarked on a a colorful tile project with the Concrete Couch community arts nonprofit. Planning meetings are taking place weekly, with the actual tile placement to occur before semester's end. The pieces will be set on the backs of the steps leading up to the school from Chestnut Street and possibly also the approximately 3-foot-high concrete block that once supported the pirate, according to Principal Nikki Myers.
In addition, work has begun to create a hawk sculpture to be placed in front of the school (though not on the block itself). An AcademyACL teacher who sculpts in stone is working with students; the piece could be installed next year, Myers said.
The school's mascot choice was made after a student contest in the school's first year, Myers said. The hawk was seen as symbolizing a key aspect of AcademyACL's learning ideals - “to soar freely without limits.”
Westside Pioneer article