CEDAR GROVE, NJ- Cedar Grove High School found a way to show school spirit with something unique and creative, and something that surprised both staff and students: ice sculptures.

Various ice sculptures were carved outside of the high school Wednesday, Feb. 15 in shapes that showed the Panthers’ pride in their school. The sculptures received a lot of positive attention from students as they exited the building, and although they will only be standing for a few days before they melt, the ice sculptures proved to have made even the smallest difference in the students’ days.

Spearheaded by Board of Education member David Schoner, this project was meant to surprise the community in a positive way.

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“I always try to think about how could we do something that’s different, in a way that we’re not used to seeing stuff, and I thought that the ice would be kind of cool for the winter,” Schoner said. “It’s not something you typically see. 

Three ice sculptures were carved ahead of time, while one was carved on the spot by Jimmy Chiappa of Jimmy’s Artistic Creations in East Rutherford. The students’ faces showed they were clearly impressed as they watched Chiappa as he carved a large panther paw outside of the school.

“They really love it,” Schoner said of the students. “They really got a huge kick out of it.”

That reaction is exactly what Schoner was hoping for as the sculptures were meant to be a conversation piece.

“It causes the kids to say, ‘Oh wow this is kind of cool. This is something that’s different.’ It just created a conversation piece,” Schoner said. “We concentrate a lot on academics and athletics and stuff like that, so it’s always nice to have something outside the box.”

Principal Richard Mangili said the ice sculptures are a way to reinforce the pride that the Panthers have, as well as show the school’s creative side and do something that most schools do not do.

“This is a special and unique display which allows the students at CGHS an opportunity to come to school in the mornings over the next few days and see ice displays, which is not the norm,” Mangili said. “I always say, ‘Let's be a standout school academically and athletically, but let's be different’ and this is different.”

Besides the panther paw carved on the spot, the three sculptures carved ahead of time included a display of the letters ‘CGHS,’ an ice block containing the words ‘Panther Pride,’ and the image of the Panther logo with a paw below it.

Schoner is no stranger to bringing out-of-the-box ideas to the school administration staff members, who he said are “always game.” His other projects include the Cedar Grove Waves 9/11 memorial installation at the high school and the “Rainworks” stencil graphics at Memorial Middle School.

It is because of Mangili, Superintendent of Schools Michael Fetherman, and Memorial Middle School Principal Nicholas DeCorte, among others, that ideas like these are brought to life, Schoner said. For this specific ice sculpture idea, Schoner and Mangili said the CGHS APT are to thank for making this happen and for their continued support.

Just like every other project Schoner has created, the ice sculptures proved to be a positive thing for both the school district and the community.

“In life we have so few positive surprises that pop up on us. This is a positive little thing. It’s just a moment in time, but it’s a positive thing,” Schoner said. “It also makes the school district and our community stand out and that’s what it’s all about – moments that make the district and community special.”