The entrance to Pioneer High School is in the process of getting a new look under the current Capital Improvement Project. Along with those upgrades, another fresh element is being added to welcome visitors.
The district's first-ever life-sized panther statue has been added to one of the gardens at the high school entrance. It was designed by a high school art class and crafted by Visual Impact Sign of East Aurora.
Art Teacher Stacey Lechevet said, "One of the units that I teach is Public Art. The current renovations project provided a great opportunity to discuss ideas for art at the entry to the school. We had worked with other organizations in the past designing large sculptures for the school.
"We decided that a panther would be a great addition, and the class began gathering ideas for how they’d like it to look. I received a CoSer grant from Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, and after researching different businesses in the area to work with, we chose Visual Impact Sign as the best fit," Mrs. Lechevet said.
Visual Impact Design owner/artist Erik Zimmerman has crafted a number of sculptures in the area.
"Covid and supply chain issues caused a little bit of a lag in production," Mrs. Lechevet added, "but now it’s complete. We hope our next project will be sculpted benches for the courtyard."
Mrs. Lechevet credited former school nurse Pat Pierce for advocating for the new icon with inspiration from former choral teacher Elwyn Roll. Former Tech Department staffer Shane Hausauer (son of Technology Manager Ed Hausauer) also had a hand in crafting the panther statue as an employee of Visual Impact Signs.
ABOVE: The Visual Impact Signs crew, including Shane Hausauer at left, Alexis Mele and Erik Zimmerman.