FLUSHING — Flushing Raider graduates from 2020 are being recognized for their perseverance during the COVID-19 pandemic with a special landmark on the grounds of Flushing High School.
On July 24, several FHS parents and 2020 Flushing grads gathered at the high school to dedicate a new statue in honor of the Class of 2020. The statue—a large metal replica of an oak tree—stands in front of the William H. Tunnicliff Auditorium, along with plaques displaying the names of every Flushing graduate from 2020.
FHS parent Heather Wheeler, who spearheaded the creation of the statue, said she’s thrilled that the Class of 2020 is getting recognized for enduring the trials of the pandemic.
“It’s overwhelming and relieving at the same time,” she said. “I’m just glad it’s done and now the kids can actually see (the project) come to life.”
Last spring, Wheeler launched a fundraiser to give every 2020 FHS senior a special class sign for graduation and used the leftover funds from that campaign to pursue an additional project: the construction of a statue that would honor 2020 FHS grads for a lifetime.
Wheeler then approached Flushing artist David Satterwhite with her idea to create a large oak tree sculpture. Satterwhite, a lifelong artist with experience in sculpting, fabricating and airbrushing, formed the tree from 1800s-era scrap metal, which he salvaged from a demolished cement company in Chelsea, MI.
Upon its completion, the tree stands nine-feet tall and weighs 1,500 pounds, featuring hand-etched leaves, detailed roots and even a life-sized crow perched on a branch.
“David went over and above for the Class of 2020,” Wheeler said. “I truly appreciate everything he’s done.”
Satterwhite, 75, said he hopes the statue will leave a lasting impact on the students and alumni.
“I have three nieces who all went to Flushing Community Schools and became teachers,” he said. “Someday down the road I might have a great niece or nephew who might say ‘hey, my Uncle Dave made that.’ Plus, I’m just happy to leave a memory for the students.”
To make the site more scenic, Wheeler said that she will be putting some finishing touches around the statue— including a flowerbed filled with orange marigolds.
Wheeler wishes to thank parents who gave funds toward the creation of the statue, along with local businesses that donated supplies. She’s also especially happy to share the moment with her daughter Zoe Butler, who graduated from Flushing in 2020 and helped with several facets of the project.
To see more photos of the tree, visit the Flushing View Facebook page.