Highlands Elementary will dedicate new 17′ hawk sculpture by school parent this morning

Crews hoisting Learning to Soar into place in the Highlands entry area after Christmas. Submitted photo.
Crews hoisting Learning to Soar into place in the Highlands entry area after Christmas. Submitted photo.

The Highlands Elementary community this morning will start its spring semester with the dedication of a work that will be a fixture of the school for decades to come.

Highlands parent and sculptor David Breneman was part of the committee tasked with envisioning design elements for the school’s entryway back in 2013, three years after the new building opened. The group decided that a sculpture suspended from the entryway’s 35-foot-high ceiling would help make the entryway area feel more active. They chose the school mascot, the red-tailed hawk, as a subject.

Breneman, a sculptor and metalsmith, set about crafting a work out of steel and translucent acrylic sheets. The finished product, entitled “Learning to Soar,” is seven feet from beak to tail with a 17-foot wingspan.

“The soaring hawk was inspired by the local hawks that often circle above the school,” Breneman said. “It is intended to remind the students that they are there to learn to soar and how important the Highlands hawks are who help them find their wings.”

Breneman donated his work developing the concept and design for the project as well as the fabrication. Funds from the Highlands Community Education Foundation paid for the materials and installation.

“My kids, parents, and friends helped in invaluable ways,” Breneman said. “Especially my friend, and structural Engineer, Andy Gilmore, who helped ensure it was safe.”

It isn’t the first work that Breneman has contributed to the Highlands community. He designed and built the mascot sculpture that’s on the Highlands exterior back in 2010, when his eldest son Carter was starting school there. Now, he has a daughter in fourth grade at Highlands and a son who will start there in two years.

“We will continue to enjoy it for the next ten years,” Breneman said of the new sculpture.

Highlands students, teachers and parents will attend a dedication ceremony for Learning to Soar this morning.