Published 11:58 pm Thursday, May 9, 2019

Students gets 1st look at mascot

Andalusia High School officially unveiled the bronze Bulldog which stands watch over the stadium from the newly-created plaza in a ceremony for the student body Thursday afternoon.

Local artist Larry Strickland, who created the sculpture from which the school’s mascot was cast, said in researching the project, he learned that the British Bulldog is stubborn and has a stick-to-it attitude.

“In doing this, you have to do some research,” Strickland, who also designed the Trojan on Troy University’s main quad, said. “I came across this about the bulldog. The English Bulldog, or bulldog, is also called the British Bulldog. It originated in the British Isles and got its name and appearance as a little bull.

“Since it was bred to work in the arena with bulls, it was ferocious, but in the 19th century the breed lost its ferocity or was outlawed,” Strickland said. “Because it was outlawed, it had a stick-to-it attitude and was a bit stubborn. I thought that was appropriate. In doing what you have to do, always stick to it and be stubborn. Go Bulldogs.”

Superintendent Ted Watson said that the statue represents everything that Andalusia High School is. 

“It represents exactly what Larry Strickland said,” Watson said. “It represents stubbornness, tenacity, stick-to-it attitude, perseverance and all the things that a person who has to stay tough in life has to have. That’s why we are Bulldogs.”

Dr. Charles Eldridge, chairman of the Andalusia Educational Building Authority, specifically addressed the senior class, and said that the project started when they were freshman.

“We have been involved in planning, scheduling, trying to keep momentum for the project and assisting in raising some parts of the funds for the project,” Eldridge said. “To us, it having been a four-year journey, this is the beginning of the culmination of all of that work.

“Part of our duty was to secure and get funds to provide a symbol of the ‘That’s Why’ spirit, which is we decided on the bronze Bulldog,” Eldridge said. “That would have been totally impossible, if it had not been for the generosity of CCB Community Bank, who gave us funds for procuring the setting and the Bulldog itself. It is because of citizens and businesses such as CCB that all of this was able to happen. It is something that although it interrupted your senior year, and we apologize for that. But it is something that when you return here I think you’ll be proud to show your family.”

Mayor Earl Johnson called the afternoon a historical moment for Andalusia High School.

“I am proud to call myself an alumnus of this beautiful school,” Johnson said. “I graduated back in the 1960s and a lot of great things have happened here and a lot of wonderful events. People who have come out of here have made a difference in the world.

“What we have been able to accomplish in the last several months and the past couple of years has taken a lot of effort from a lot of people,” Johnson said. “A group of people that were assembled just for this project, the Andalusia Educational Building Authority, raised in cash and pledges more than $1.1 million dollars to date for this project.”

AHS senior Collin Marcum said that even though his senior year was interrupted by the construction, he is still thankful.

“This Bulldog represents a lot of hard work and sacrifice by the senior class,” Marcum said. “We did miss out on a couple of those things that we were ready to enjoy during our senior year, but having the Bulldog here before we graduate is really special and really important to us. It is a pretty impressive statue.”

The entire project has been a long process and head football coach Trent Taylor said that work is not done yet, but the Bulldog is the cherry on top.

“I mean, what an impressive structure,” Taylor said. “Can you imagine how many pictures are going to be taken in front of it, senior portraits, and whatever else? I think it symbolizes the commitment that our school board, city hall and everyone involved has had. I find it interesting, we had the assistant coach from the University of Alabama came down here to do some recruiting and he like countless others have always said that it is obvious the level of commitment that Andalusia has, not only to their football team, but to the youth. I think that is exactly what it says. Yes, it is a football and soccer facility, but it is a commitment to the youth of our community.”