Totem celebrates cedar program

While most people celebrate a school’s accomplishments with an assembly and some kind of plaque, parents, staff and students of the Coupeville School District’s Cedar program are doing something different.

They are teaming up to carve a totem pole that celebrates the history of the four-year-old school.

Since around spring break in April, participants have been carving into a tree that came from Cedar co-director David Pfeiffer’s property.

Carvers cut the bark off the 12-foot-long chunk of cedar and grooved out a channel in the back. Then images of animals were drawn the length of the pole, with each image representing an attitude that is encouraged at the Cedar program. A raven represents fun and creativity while a bear symbolizes the protection and strength needed to maintain and expand the program, said Gordon Grant, an Oak Harbor sculptor who is working with students to design and carve the totem.

“We want all of the students who participate to know that it’s a safe place to be,” Pfeiffer said of the Cedar program.

Each of the three people who started the popular program, Pfeiffer, co-director Deb Lund and secretary Jamie Easton, can also pick an image to represent themselves on the pole. Easton will have a moon, Lund will have an otter and Pfeiffer hasn’t decided yet.

Students work on the pole two days a week and it gives them a hands-on project that they enjoy.

“We all get to carve and it’s really special,” said eighth grader Katie Madigan who was joined Wednesday morning by eighth grader Sophie Warwick and fifth grader Rebecca Owenby.

Parents are chipping in to provide tools and assistance in carving.

“The chief delight of this is that it involves everyone,” Grant said.

The pole is currently inside a tent located next to the Cedar program building at the Camp Casey Conference Center.

Pfeiffer said the totem pole should be finished in time for an installation ceremony June 7. He is currently negotiating with conference center officials to find a suitable location.

It will be a nice landmark showcasing the program’s growth over the past four years.

When the Cedar Program started in November 2002, it had 14 students and was located at the Au Sable Institute. The program quickly outgrew its original home and has since moved to its current location at Camp Casey. The parent partnership program now has approximately 70 students, most of whom are in grades kindergarten through 10. Pfeiffer said most of the upper-level students start attending community college through the Running Start program.

The Cedar program received funding from several sources to help pay for carving tools and other costs of the totem pole project.

Cedar received a $1,500 grant from the Community Foundation for Coupeville Public Schools that provided support for the carving project along with music, art and gymnastic classes. The program also received $300 from the Coupeville Lions Club.

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