. Senior class officers, from the left, Becca Tondi, treasurer; Adam Simmons, president; Kaitlyn Hill, vice president; and Laura Shoopman, secretary, pose with the restored statue (Submitted/The Report).

Students bring back iconic statue

By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

For five years, an iconic piece of Westosha Central High School history sat in a Burlington lot — until the Class of 2019 orchestrated the wood-carved Falcon statue’s return.

On May 30, students welcomed the statue back, a journey that took a year of searching and restoring.

“Seeing the Falcon pull up to the school was incredible … everyone who was involved (was) cheering and celebrating,” said senior class Vice President Kaitlyn Hill, who was credited, along with other class officers, with securing the big bird’s return.

“I was in shock that it actually was back. It was amazing to see all my hard work actually pay off and to have such an iconic statue back at Central.”

Hill said the special statute carries a history older than the school itself.

In the 1950s, the statue was formerly an oak tree, which later died during the school’s expansion about four decades later.

Instead of removing the entire tree, the school hired renowned woodcarver Ron Tepley to design a falcon out of the remaining tree trunk in the 1990s.

By 2014, the statue was reportedly unsalvageable and removed to make way for further expansion at the school.

Five years later, Hill heard rumors the Falcon still existed. But it was a matter of finding out where the piece was stored.

“My goal was always just to find the Falcon,” said Hill, whose vision was using it as the senior class gift.

“Personally, I think gifts should always mean something special, and with all the history the Falcon has, I knew it would be the perfect gift.”

Reaching her goal, however, took the entire school year.

After about six months, Hill found the statue was sitting at Carl’s Complete Tree Service. She received confirmation from Carl’s brother, Mark, that the statue still existed.

From there, Hill and other class officers — President Adam Simmons, secretary Laura Shoopman and treasurer Becca Tondi — met with the Weis family, which owns Complete Tree Service, about returning the Falcon to Westosha Central.

“The Weis family has been part of Central for many years and they are all Central alumni,” she said. “Carl’s Complete Tree Service and the entire Weis family have contributed to the success of the Falcon.”

Carl’s Complete Tree Service, Hill said, removed the statue in 2014 when the school expanded the parking lot and decided to keep the Falcon instead of discarding it.

“The Weis family have kept the Falcon safe for the last five years, and they are thrilled to have the falcon back where it belongs,” Hill said.

However, many other challenges remained, including the restoration, transportation and designing a foundation for the structure.

Arbor Images, of Burlington, stepped up to restore the bird to its original state. The process included replacing a rotted portion, re-carving the right side of the face and applying a new coat of stain.

Kevin Ramer conducted the restoration efforts.

With the Falcon found and restored, Menarek Stamped Concrete then created the base.

Hill said there is still more work that needs to be done.

In order for the Falcon to remain in good condition, the Class of 2019 is looking to raise additional funds for a shelter to protect it from the elements.

Anyone interested in donating to the cause or getting more information should call the school at 262-843-2321.

Donations can be sent to:
Westosha Central High School, Class of 2019 Falcon Fund, 24617 75th St., Salem, WI 53168.


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