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Wampus Cat statue unveiling set for Tuesday

By Tammy Keith

This article was originally published January 6, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. Updated January 4, 2013 at 9:22 a.m.

conway-high-school-teachers-beth-white-from-the-left-and-jeani-johnson-along-with-former-students-natalie-faught-corey-robichaud-christina-johnson-and-cheyanne-sutton-chat-in-part-of-the-old-conway-high-school-before-its-demolition-near-a-small-statue-of-the-schools-mascot-the-wampus-cat-an-unveiling-of-a-6-foot-tall-bronze-wampus-cat-statue-is-scheduled-for-4-pm-tuesday-in-front-of-the-james-h-clark-auditorium-on-the-new-high-school-campus

Conway High School teachers, Beth White, from the left, and Jeani Johnson, along with former students Natalie Faught, Corey Robichaud, Christina Johnson and Cheyanne Sutton, chat in part of the old Conway High School before its demolition near a small statue of the school's mascot, the Wampus Cat. An unveiling of a 6-foot-tall bronze Wampus Cat statue is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday in front of the James H. Clark Auditorium on the new high school campus.

— In case there was any doubt, it will be obvious after Tuesday what the Conway High School mascot is.

A bronze Wampus Cat statue will be installed on the brick base in front of the James H. Clark Auditorium at the high school on Prince Street.

A special unveiling is planned for 4 p.m., and the public is invited.

Centennial Bank in Conway paid for the creation and casting of the sculpture.

“It’s huge — 6 feet, head to tail,” said Eric King, marketing manager for the bank.

He said the statue will include a plaque that has Wampus Cat “kind of large” and describes what a Wampus Cat is, a mythical creature with six legs, “four to run the speed of light and two for fighting with all its might.”

Conway School District Superintendent Greg Murry said artist Raymond Gibby of Pea Ridge was commissioned to design and cast the rendering of the Wampus Cat.

“Centennial is paying all costs for the cat, and we certainly appreciate their continued support of our district,” Murry said, although officials didn’t want to reveal the cost.

Murry said the statue “should be a great addition to our campus.”

Gibby said he started on the sculpture in September.

“I’d heard of a Wampus, but I didn’t know what one was,” he said. “At first I was skeptical — what on earth am I doing making a six-legged cougar? I’m a fairly realistic wildlife artist. It ended up being quite fun to do.”

Gibby also designed the Burlsworth Trophy, named for the former All-American Razorback player, Brandon Burlsworth, who was killed in a car wreck 11 days after being drafted by the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. The trophy is given to the nation’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.

The artist said he is busy with several projects, so he doesn’t know how many hours he spent on the Wampus Cat.

“It was more fun than difficult, and I sort of thrive on that anymore,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy showing people this later on.”

Gibby said he will install the Wampus Cat himself.

His website is nobility

bronze.com.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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