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Relocation of major artifacts symbolizes change of school site from Pike to AcademyACL

This framed Zebulon Pike painting hung in the anteway of Pike Elementary during its 53 years on the Westside. It now hangs on the wall of the District 11 Museum. Also in the photo are artifacts from two other D-11 schools that have closed: Jefferson (a wall design) and Lincoln (a statue).
Westside Pioneer photo
       For a few years after Pike Elementary closed in 2009, two notable relics of its 53-year history remained on display in what is now the Academy for Advanced & Creative Learning charter school at 2510 N. Chestnut St.
       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
Before the 50-year anniversary of Pike Elementary in January 2006, sculptor Charles Green posed beside the pirate he had created for his old school in 1993. Three years later, District 11 was to close the school. With the Academy for Advanced & Creative Learning charter school now on the site, D-11 has moved the pirate elsewhere and is seeking a new home for it.
Westside Pioneer file photo
forging its own identity - it opened in 2010 and has since adopted a hawk as its mascot - the Pike painting and the pirate sculpture have gone away.
       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
At the grand opening of Academy ACL's new modular building in December 2014, Principal Nikki Myers (right, on ramp by door) welcomes students, staff and parents. Also on the ramp, helping with the opening, is the school's hawk mascot.
Courtesy of AcademyACL
kind of cool to be a pirate, but it's not the kind of behavior that you want to recommend to the kids,” he said.
       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
(Posted 3/10/15; Schools: Academy for Advanced & Creative Learning)

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