Our Polar Bear Mascot

In the fall of 1929 Charles C. LaRue became principal of Woodward High School. The new school had opened in the fall of 1928. Apparently the school had not chosen a mascot during its first year. Principal LaRue was tasked with selecting a mascot.

 

There are two stories that are commonly believed to explain how the Polar Bear became Woodward’s mascot. The first is that the Polar Bear was chosen because the new school was located in the North end of Toledo. The second is that Mr. LaRue chose the Polar Bear because it was the mascot of his alma mater Ohio Northern University. Whichever story is correct he named the Polar Bear “Polaris” after the North Star.

Through the years several depictions of Polar Bears appeared in the school yearbook the Saga. The 1958 Saga featured a Polar Bear on the cover.

In the winter of the 1960/1961 school year Woodward obtained its first Polar Bear statue that was placed in front of the school. Below is the story of how that happened as recalled by Bill Lingnell Class of 1960 and printed in the Hail to Woodward High! 75th Anniversary book by Gayle Morgan Schaber.

From the 1939 Saga/Tattler

I still clearly remember getting the bear for Woodward. The Frozen Custard, an ice cream store on Sylvania Avenue, had the bear in front of the store and contacted me (as Student Council President) to see if Woodward wanted it. I believe they were either closing or moving to another location. Of course, I said yes! John Russell, Jerry Clark, Dick Murphy, Jim Robinson and I spent a cold Saturday morning in the winter of 1960 moving the bear across town with a tow truck. “The Blade" sent a photographer.  I hadn't looked at that scrapbook for over 30 years. The tape had let go, and the picture is yellow. But what a great memory! - Bill Lingnell Class of 1960

The "original" Polar Bear from the 1962 Saga

The “original” Polar Bear served as the mascot for Woodward High School from the winter of the 1960/1961 school year until the fall of the 1973/1974 school year.  

 

It is believed that Woodward was the only high school in Toledo that had a outdoor mascot in front of the school. During this period of time the Polar Bear was painted many times by students from other schools. Usually this was done prior to that school playing Woodward in football or basketball.

 

The original Polar Bear was solid concrete so it was impossible for other schools to “borrow” our bear.

From Zip Line in the Toledo Blade

On September 10, 1973 one driver was trying to overtake another in a race. At 6:15 he lost control of his car and smashed into WHS’s Polar Bear. Although the Polar Bear was demolished, steps are being taken by Mr. Geis to buy Woodward another Bear. This picture was taken by Tattler photographer Tom Toth, class of 1974.

The classes of 1974 and 1975 are the only classes to graduate without a Polar Bear mascot outdoor on the campus of the school since the "original" Polar Bear was placed there in the 1960/1961 school year.

From the Tattler

From the 1976 Saga

A new Polar Bear appeared in front of Woodward High School during the 1975/1976 school year. From Hail to Woodward High! 75th Anniversary book by Gayle Morgan Schaber...

A new polar bear reigned over Streicher Street. Science teacher Ray Attie designed and built the new mascot statue with the help of Jed's Tool Shop, Kuhlman Corporation, and Auburndale Moving Company, along with the Woodward Booster Club who helped finance the project.

2010 - new school

This Polar Bear stood watch over Woodward High School for 35 years until the 1928 Woodward High School building at 600 E. Streicher St. closed in 2010.

In 2010 then principal Emilio Ramirez and longtime Woodward volunteer Stan Czerminski made sure that the bear was saved and was moved to the new Woodward High School. It now proudly stands watch on the Woodward High School campus at the rear of the school facing the football/track complex.

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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