DHS file photo

Derby High School will likely soon have a new panther sculpture. It’s a project that Principal Tim Hamblin has had in the works for a decade.

Derby High School students will soon have a new tradition. 

Principal Tim Hamblin recently unveiled plans for a new panther sculpture that will sit on the front lawn of Derby High School. Hamblin presented details about the sculpture at last Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

Hamblin said he had a vision for the sculpture when he started as principal 10 years ago. 

“When I became principal, I got this idea of creating a lasting gift for campus,” Hamblin said. “There’s the [black marble panther] and the bell. Both of those were donated in 1967. Oddly, there’s really been nothing of that magnitude given to the current Derby High School campus.”

“10 years later, I have raised all the money required to see this come to a reality.”

The money used for the sculpture is all donations, Hamblin said — there was “absolutely not a single tax dollar or bond money used on this.”

In a separate interview, Hamblin explained that over the years senior classes have been “willing to contribute any money they have left toward [the sculpture]” and that people in the community have also donated money.

Hamblin said he won’t know the exact cost of the sculpture until bidding opens, but anticipates that with landscaping it will cost around $60,000. 

The panther sculpture will be 85 percent bronze, 1 ¼ life size in scale, and will be standing up on two legs. The statue’s full height will be roughly “six feet from tail to the tip of the nose,” Hamblin said.

“It’s a vertical statue, so my hope is that it will be tall enough that someone could stand in front of it and the paw could be on their right shoulder,” Hamblin said. 

Hamblin did not have a mockup or design concept to show at Monday’s meeting, but said he would share that with the board soon. 

Because the estimated price of the sculpture goes over the district’s statutory limit, the project has to be bid. After Hamblin presented the board of education with details about the sculpture, the board moved it up to an action item and voted to allow bidding to open. Bidding will be held July 28. 

Hamblin said that if everything moves forward as planned, landscaping and construction of the base could start this fall. His goal is to have a sculpture in place this spring before the school year ends. 

Hamblin said he hopes the statue somehow becomes another tradition for high schoolers.

“Hopefully it sticks and carries on for years and years.”

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