After spending more than a decade collecting dust, an artistic metal sign created by Helena High School's class of 2008 has finally made its debut at the corner of North Roberts Street and Billings Avenue.
According to welding teacher Cindy Galbavy, the Helena High School Bengals sign was created by the class of 2008 at the request of the class of 2007, which used its class funds to purchase the materials.
"Back then steel prices were so high. I've forgotten how much it cost," Galbavy said. "Originally we thought it was going up that year, but it got put into storage and kind of lost."
Galbavy had an idea of where the sign was located but said she hadn't seen it for more than 10 years. Every year, she asked school administrators if it could be installed.
When the school district's old maintenance building was cleared out, Galbavy was worried that the sign would be tossed in the garbage. Once it was located, she immediately came to retrieve it and then kept it in her classroom for more than a year.
The sign sustained some wear and tear during its decade in storage, but overall it remained in good condition. However, it couldn't stay in her classroom forever. This is where facilities director Kali Kind comes in.
"Once Kali found out she really pushed the project forward," Galbavy said.
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Kind said she found out about the sign approximately 10 weeks before it was in the ground. Despite having been facilities director for over three years, she had never heard of the elusive Bengals sign before.
"When I found out about it I said 'Oh, it's going in the ground before kids come back' (from summer break)," Kind said. "It was important to me because kids made it and we leverage the welding class all the time."
The sign was installed by Tabbert Construction just a couple of weeks before students return for the 2019-2020 school year. Galbavy said it had been so long that Brian Kessler, one of the students who originally wanted the sign made, was about to start his new job as assistant principal of Helena High.
"I can't even remember all the kids that worked on it anymore," Galbavy said. "But I still remembered what it looked like. We never gave up asking every year."
Kind says she just believes that those in charge simply weren't trying hard enough to get it done.
"It just takes a little bit of effort," Kind said.
Though the sign is in the ground, it isn't done just yet. Kind said they are having a plaque made that acknowledges the dedication from the class of 2007. As for the sign itself, it readily identifies Helena High School on a corner that previously gave no indication of what the building is.