THE BLADE/ZACK CONKLE Enlarge | Buy This Photo
When it comes to saving polar bears, this is a decidedly less taxing, or dangerous, case.
Woodward High School and its alumni are raising funds to refurbish the statue of the school's mascot, Polaris the polar bear. Built in 1978 - after the original was destroyed in a car wreck - the 6,000 pound statue suffers from wear at its base and could use new paint.
Woodward Principal Emilio Ramirez said the combination of age, exposure to the elements, and several moves have damaged the bear's hollow base.
"It's been deteriorating over time," he said. "It's nearly 30 years old."
With the old Woodward building torn down, and a new one constructed at the corner of Stickney and Central avenues, now is the time to give Polaris a permanent home, with an improved base. A plaster and concrete mix will secure the statue near the cafeteria, between the school and the old Woodward site that will house athletic facilities.
The home is well away from traffic, which should help the current Polaris avoid its predecessor's automobile-related fate. The bear could also use some new paint and sealer.
The statue was made by former Woodward teacher Ray Attie, and Woodward graduate Stan Czerminski is spearheading the repairs, according to alumnus Rebecca Erd. Students have helped maintain it over the years, Mr. Ramirez said.
Despite extended time out in the open, the bear has avoided graffiti or other forms of vandalism.
"The kids do respect it," he said. "It's been out there for years, and nobody's messed with it."
The school estimates it will cost about $900 for the refurbishment. To pay for the costs, Woodward will hold a pancake breakfast between 8:30 am and noon on Saturday at the school. Tickets for adults are $5, and are $3 for children. Woodward's band will play at 9 a.m., and tours of the building will be available.