FITCHBURG HIGH’S RED RAIDER
Red Raider pride stands 12 Feet Tall. Fitchburg High cheers as student-designed statue takes the stage. As of this week, Fitchburg High students have a 12-foot symbol of their pride in their school, and in themselves. The official presentation of the Red Raider statue on Wednesday morning, designed by Fitchburg students based on their mascot, was the culmination of a months-long project by the Revolving Museum. The museum, founded by Fitchburg High alum and artist Jerry Beck, works to create community-focused art projects to be enjoyed by the public.
The Red Raider project was begun by Beck, who is also the museum director, to inspire members of the Fitchburg High community and the public to feel a sense of school and civic pride. Beck also wanted to work with current high school students on the project, to encourage creativity, community service, and the idea that students can play a leadership role in the revitalization of their city.
Wednesday’s event featured a dramatic unveiling of the 12-foot mascot, as well as multicultural music and dance performances. Students wore clothes and carried flags to correspond with the countries they were representing, including Mexico, Ghana, Japan, Spain, Greece, Canada and the United States. Students from the French classes sung a French song, and Spanish students performed a traditional Mexican dance. The school marching band played the Fitchburg High alma mater, with the lyrics displayed for students to sing along.
Guest speakers at the event included Beck, Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong, State Rep. Stephen DiNatale and Principal Jeremy Roche.
“Today, this is what makes me proud to be a part of Fitchburg High School,” Roche told students. He added that the mascot symbolizes something important and unique about Fitchburg High: “the fact that we’re all a little bit different from one another, but come under the banner of Fitchburg High School and the Red Raider.
Fitchburg High students take part in a multicultural fair during the unveiling of the new Red Raider mascot statue at the school Wednesday morning. The statue is a collaboration between Jerry Beck of the Revolving Museum, FHS students and local artists.
When students were asked to write, at the beginning of the school year, what being a Red Raider means to them, Roche said, “it was emotional” for staff members to read their responses.
“People wrote about things like grit, tolerance, academic excellence, about our athletics, our award-winning band,” he said. “We all need to grasp that idea in our hearts–what it is to be from Fitchburg High School.”
Graduating senior Grechel Rosado, who was the Lady Red Raider during this school year, said “being a Red Raider means to have determination, confidence, leadership, pride, love.”
“I learned to be a Red Raider from the people around me,” Rosado added. She challenged next year’s students to embody all the qualities of their mascot.
The mascot itself was a collaborative effort between the Revolving Museum, more than 10 artists, and more than 60 Fitchburg High students.
DiNatale thanked Beck for being so “relentless” when it came to making the mascot a reality.
“He wouldn’t let up,” DiNatale said. “He was thinking about what’s best for the city of Fitchburg.”
Beck said it was “an honor” to work with the students and hear what was important to their vision of a Red Raider.
For instance, Beck said the four waves on the mascot’s helmet represent each of the four classes at Fitchburg High, connected to the wings on the helmet “to lead to the students’ productive future.”
Items built inside the statue were significant as well, including an antique saw blade donated by Simonds International, a stone from the top of Rollstone Hill, a horseshoe from Crocker Reservation, school books, and sports equipment.
The statue, designed to represent the strength and determination of Fitchburg students, has a strong “but not superhero” build, and an intentionally ethnically ambiguous skin tone, Beck said. On Wednesday morning, the curtain rose on the huge, painted Viking to loud whistles and cheers from the audience.
After the unveiling, Roche reiterated the importance of the mascot and what it symbolizes for the school.
“This is going to be a physical point of pride for our school,” he said, adding, “we can’t let Leominster get ahold of this thing around Thanksgiving!”
In Memory of
Lester H. Rome, FHS class of 1933
The DiNatale Family
Fitchburg City Councilor Angelo Bisol
FHS Alumni Steve Backholm
Jesus Lopez & TJ Painting Company
Nancy Farrar Tofferi, FHS Class of 1952
Bri-Co Welding LLC.
Viola’s Fitchburg Tire & Service
Attorney John B. Barrett
Foster-Healey Real Estate
SABOURIN HARDWARE COMPANY
City Councilor Amy Green
FHS Staff Member Brian Green
FHS Alumni Paulette Roy Tata
Pat and Brian Burak
BRI-CO Welding LLC.,
Montuori Oil Company