By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Kandy Frazier, Carthage High School principal, summed it up once the new addition to the CHS campus was unveiled Thursday.
The bronze tiger sculpture created by Carthage artist and sculptor Bob Tommey, she said, is the kind of work that would be found at a big university.
“It’s a masterpiece,” Frazier said. “High schools don’t normally have something like this.”
The praise for the sculpture that came from students, school officials and Carthage residents was far more effusive than the introduction from the low-key Tommey. He thanked the Carthage School Board for approving his proposal for the sculpture, thanked those who raised funds to get the work bronzed, and then asked his grandchildren, all CHS students or graduates, to remove the cover.
“This is a gift to you all, and here’s the tiger,” he said.
The unveiling was held at the end of the school day and attracted the CHS student body. Students gathered around the sculpture mounted on a stone base in front of the new school, which opened in March 2009. They cheered and applauded when the covering was pulled away.
Jeremiah Harenza, a sophomore, pronounced the sculpture “beautiful,” and Andie Cabral, a junior, said, “It’s really cool.”
“I like it, and it’s nice that he put so much time into it,” Cabral said.
Work on the project started in June 2007 after the concept was approved by the school board. Much of the time it took to complete went to raising the roughly $50,000 needed to pay for bronzing the work.
Sandy Higgins, of Carthage, headed up the fundraising effort, which she said was challenging because it came in the middle of an economic downturn.
“I’m really happy and proud; it looks stunning,” Higgins said after the unveiling ceremony. “And, I’m happy because this is so special for Bob.”
Lee Pound, a member of the Carthage School Board, credited Tommey and Higgins “for giving us such a wonderful addition to the high school.”
Jeff Jones, board president, said the contribution from Tommey, 82, is an example of support for Carthage schools “that transcends generations.”
He called the sculpture Tommey’s “most recent example of giving back to the community” and challenged the students as part of the next generation “to find ways to give back.”
Tommey, a nationally known artist and sculptor most known for his Western art, started with three tiger models, and created the one that was chosen by the school board. The 7-foot-long, 6-foot-tall sculpture was then taken to a Texas foundry. Crafting the bronze sculpture from the model and adding the patina — a chemical reaction to color the bronze — took about two months.
Superintendent Blaine Henningsen said the sculpture will be illuminated with a floodlight.