- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

VILONIA, Ark. (AP) - Vilonia Junior High School students recently held a commemoration ceremony, where the “majestic” mascot was placed back on a pedestal.

Eighth graders in a community service project class at the school - including Drake Toll, Kaleb Shaw, Roger Courtney Darrel Yurchak and Geoffery Agerton - launched the project several months ago to replace the school’s mascot that once stood on the campus of the junior high, the Log Cabin Democrat reported.

While it has not been confirmed, the eagle was reportedly stolen several years ago. In his commemoration speech, Toll said the new eagle is the first to be displayed there since before 1995.

It was an “idea nearly 45 years ago of the 1968-69 student council and Beta Club of the high school,” he said. “They had an idea that would not only take them effort and hard work but now years later, lead us on that same path that they went through to establish this great piece of Vilonia history.”

For many years, he said, it has been missing.

“I stand here to bring back the magnificence of a monument that left a mark on a graduating class in 1969 and then another huge mark on me and the people that are able to be a part of this great event.”

Toll said it took many people to work together to make it happen. He thanked a long list of people including his teacher, Coach Justin Moore, as well as the other students who worked on the project and the school’s maintenance department.

Others in the community helped in “big ways,” he said, by providing contributions and the labor to get it done.

Nabholz Construction, he said, donated $1,500. Tommy Pate Sr. of Pate Dirt and Concrete Services helped with measurements, concrete work and installation.

“He helped us too with some concrete and brick work tips that educated us throughout,” Toll said.

Vilonia resident Jerry Heffington donated the rock work.

In closing, Toll referenced the turmoil of two devastating tornadoes in just a short period of time - 2011 and 2014 - with many people losing everything.

“A bold, strong, sturdy mascot, like an eagle, is perfect for this town because that’s what we are,” Toll said. “We rally around each other and see the brighter side of everything. I hope this eagle can stand as a brighter side for this community and its people.”

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Information from: Log Cabin Democrat, https://www.thecabin.net

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