Sculpture symbolizes OTHS' Panther Pride

Progress Staff WriterJune 26, 2014 

Ryan Kemp, foreground, a 2014 graduate of O’Fallon Township High School, submitted the winning design for the sculpture “Panther Pride,” which now stands by the high school’s main entrance. The memorial was created as part of a collaborative educational project carried out by the students of art teacher Denise Currier, left, and welding instructor Garrett Spencer.

BY MARK RAEBER — For the Progress Buy Photo

The O’Fallon Township High School Dist. 203 school board dedicated a new sculpture on the Smiley campus prior to its June 19 meeting that is intended to symbolize the pride the school has in its contributions to the community and the esteem with which it holds its faculty and staff, both living and dead.

The piece, called “Panther Pride,” has been placed just to the left of the school’s main entrance as a centerpiece for a memorial garden created for members of the school’s community who have died, noted Superintendent Darcy Benway during the ceremony.

Panther Pride is specifically dedicated to Matt Seipp, the late OTHS welding teacher who strongly supported the interdepartmental educational program that produced the sculpture and five other pieces now on display throughout the city. Seipp died in May 2013 at the age of 33 after suffering a head injury in a fall from a ladder.

It was created as part of a collaborative project in which now retired art teacher Denise Currier’s students vied for the honor of having their designs translated into metal by the students in the advanced welding classes first taught by Seipp and now by Garrett Spencer.

The sculpture was conceived by Ryan Kemp, a 2014 graduate of OTHS. It incorporates the interlocking letters O, T, H and S stacked in a four-foot high column and was constructed using metal intended to weather into a rust-like patina.

Welding students Robert Ates, Bradley Fish, Zach Hastings, Kevin Lacey, Michael Libby, Michael Lickenbrock, Chris Raglin and Scott Szugye worked on the sculpture.

The piece was funded through a grant from the OTHS Endowment Fund.

In other actions during the meeting:

• Following a public hearing, the board approved the interfund transfer of $500,000 from the Operations and Maintenance Fund to the Education Fund, which was planned as part of the 2013-2014 budget to reduce an expected deficit in the ed fund.

• The board also voted to abate working cash in an amount not to exceed $1.7 million as an additional measure to reduce the education fund deficit.

• The board disapproved all bids received for a project to resurface parking lots on the Smiley campus because they came in over budget. In a report from the Facilities, Safety and Transportation committee, Board Member Keith Richter said OTHS maintenance personnel will patch the damaged parking areas this summer and the bids will be relet in January 2015 with the hope more favorable material costs will be available at that time.

• The board also selected a bid from Liberty Mutual Insurance to provide the school district’s liability insurance for the 2014-2015 school year. Brian Kreisler of Warma Witter Kreisler and Associates Inc. of O’Fallon said bids were sought from four companies, including the current carrier Cincinnati Insurance, and three were returned. He said the bid of Mutual Insurance provided more coverage for more than the expiring price of its past policy but less than the renewal price bid by the Cincinnati. He added the $258,942 annual premium represented a savings of $21,000 over the other bids.

• The board also adopted the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act, which establishes the going rate of pay for work done under state contract by members of skilled trade and construction unions. By state law, school districts must vote each year to abide by its provisions. Keith Richter’s vote in opposition to the resolution prompted a discussion in which the majority of members agreed the district should ask the Illinois Association of School Boards to continue working on behalf of all school boards to lobby the state legislature to change the law or to exempted school districts from its provisions.

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