Cherokee High School is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and the Warriors are looking back at some of the special icons that have represented the school over the years.
Cherokee High has had three totem poles over its 60-year history, according to information provided by the school.
In 1963, Clifton Edmonson donated a red cedar log to the Art Department to be used to make a totem pole for the school.
The totem pole would stand as a visual history of the school, so the art students decided to carve images of the rival schools’ mascots.
The top warrior on the totem pole represented the earliest warriors who established the winning tradition, creating the history of the school in competition.
The bottom warrior represented the present warriors who have the responsibility to continue that winning tradition.
Schools that were featured on that totem pole were: Marietta High School (Devil), Sprayberry High School (Yellow Jacket), Pickens County High School (Dragon), Forsyth County and Rossville High School (Bulldog), Gainesville High School (Elephant), Osborne High School (Cardinal), South Cobb High School (Eagle), Cass High School (Colonel) and Campbell High School (Panther).
Upon completion, the first totem pole stood outside of the principal’s office.
Squat the Indian came about around the same time that the first totem pole for the school was being carved.
Squat originated in the journalism class during 1963-64 through the creativity of Carol Hillhouse, who was enrolled in both journalism and art classes, reported the Atlanta Journal.
He made great use for the school’s newspaper, The Chieftain, and symbolized the best intentions and attitudes in Cherokee High School’s spirit.
Squat quickly became a beloved mascot throughout the years and still is to the present day.
In 1966, the Sam Leslie family donated a black walnut log that was over 100 years old to the Art Department for Squat to be created.
On June 30 1966, Squat was installed by Eugene Cline in the main lobby for everyone to see.
The small statue was bolted down to the floor for the students to turn and see him.
When the first totem pole started to show signs of decay, Mr. and Mrs. Edgar McCard of Ball Ground donated a new log to the art room, reported the North Georgia Tribune.
The new log was 18 and a half feet tall and arrived early one morning in January.
Work on the new totem pole began in 1996 and was finally completed in 1998.
The figures represented the schools with whom Cherokee competed with academics, arts and athletics with the exceptions of the top and bottom figures who were for Cherokee High School.
On top was the ancestor warrior who started the tradition, and on bottom was the current warrior that was to continue that same tradition.
Along with the old mascots, some newer mascots appeared in Cherokee County, such as the Etowah Eagles, Sequoyah Chiefs and Woodstock Wolverines.
The third, and cuurent, totem pole stands outside of the school facing the highway for all to see.
The totem was given as a form of a graduation gift to the Class of 2011.
It features both the reoccurring top and bottom warrior along with a few of the school’s rivals.
Editor’s note: Samantha Zoe is a senior at Cherokee High School and wrote these articles for her senior project.