The history of the owl goes back a long way at Henry High School, but since the school’s merger with Florence in 2008, the school’s mascot has been a falcon. The Henry gym has been painted blue to reflect the new school colors, but an old painting of two owls still remains on the gymnasium walls. Students say they are ready to see it go.
“They really would like to have their heritage; they would like to have their falcons. It bothers them that they have two owls sitting down on the falcon mats that we put on the east end of the gym,” Henry superintendent Steve Zirbel said.
Henry student council members decided it was time to paint over the owls, but before a proposal was written to the school board, the people in the community were already voicing their thoughts.
“It got out to the community that we were going to paint the owls over on a Saturday. Social media took over from that, and before you know we have all kinds of people wondering are we going to paint the owls over,” Zirbel said.
Students say they do want the owls painted over, but they don’t plan to take them away for good.
“We’re not just getting rid of it completely. We’ll put a mural up, respect the owl and move on to the falcons,” sophomore Kory Lane said.
Students plan to have a mural put together showing the owl painting. They say it will hang not far from the existing painting.
“We're not trying to get rid of the owls completely. We are just trying to focus on falcons,” student council vice president Jennifer Jensen said.
Students say if the school board passes the proposal to retire the owl painting, nothing will be done until this summer.
“We just really want to retire it in a really nice way to our community,” Jensen said.
The student council is still working on their proposal for the school board. KSFY reached out to community members concerned about the painting, but none would comment. The Facebook page that contained several complaints about removing the owls, has been deleted.