The Spirit of Wilde Lake in a Statue

The wildecat statue, built out of paper-mache by then-senior Kurt
Muller in 1998, sits outside of the media center.

Zoe MacDiarmid

The wildecat statue, built out of paper-mache by then-senior Kurt Muller in 1998, sits outside of the media center.

At the heart of the school, a ferocious wildecat is ready to pounce, bearing its teeth, waiting for students to pass it as they walk by the media center. Now, students are greeted by the cat as they walk across the bridge connecting the second floor over Main Street. However, most of the current students do not know about the cat’s mysterious origins and significance.

In the summer of 1998, Class President Kurt Muller worked to create the notorious wildecat statue in the media center, according to principal Ms. Leonard. The cat’s outward appearance is not the only thing special about it, with a rather interesting story about its contents. The statue holds a legacy inside — three socks that were worn by students who were never identified as they streaked through the halls for their senior prank.

The unique texture of the cat leaves students, like sophomore Aniya Beauty, wondering how it was made. “He kinda looks like he was made out of clay, almost like he was built up out of dirt and grain,” said Aniya.
Media specialist Ms. Bailey provides some insight on the material of the statue. “I think students are always amazed that it’s paper mache,” she explains. “It’s well done enough that people think it’s really hard stuff.”
Members of the Wilde Lake community not only find an artistic value in the statue, but also a historical significance.

Then Senior, Kurt Muller, working on the wildecat statue in 1998. Photo from Abigail Yeager

Special educator Mr. Lienhard reminisces, “It’s been here as long as I can remember.” Having spent 19 years at Wilde Lake, Mr. Lienhard says the statue exudes a sense of “stability.”

Mr. Holzman, a Social Studies teacher who grew up in Columbia and went to Centennial High School reflects on the significance of Wilde Lake’s location. “Wilde Lake has always kind of been the epicenter of Columbia.”
Besides just being a physical representation of Wilde Lake’s mascot, the statue is also a representation of the spirit of the school. As Aniya put it, the statue “symbolizes Wilde Lake.”

What that symbol means, according to English teacher Ms. Snowden is “a very supportive community that cares about all the people in it.”

“Wilde Lake is different from other schools I’ve encountered because of the genuine care that I see staff having for students,” said Ms. Snowden.
Former wildecat mascot and current Spanish teacher Ms. Sweitzer reflects on the symbolism of the statue. “A wildecat is independent. It knows what it wants for itself and it conquers any challenge, obstacle, prey in its way,” said Ms. Sweitzer. “There’s no one description of the students. I mean, we’re so different that different is normal.”