Powered by a growing list of partnerships and a host of new programs, Harding School on Santa Barbara’s Westside had an exciting new vibe about it during the last school year. One disappointing blemish was the theft of a venerable campus icon in June.
The Harding School mascot is a hawk and, for decades, a hawk weathervane has stood atop a cupola at the school at 1625 Robbins St. Around June 10, the weathervane was cut from its perch, and the hawk vanished.
“I was crushed (when I heard the news),” Harding School Principal Sally Kingston said. “Who did that and who would ever take something like that? Many kids and alumni have a long history at Harding — anything that’s taken from you feels like a violation.”
With a shrinking budget and other financial priorities, such as the school’s development of its International Baccalaureate Program, Harding can’t raise the $15,000 needed to replace the historic weathervane. The figure includes installation and labor.
But birds of a feather can flock together and Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen had an idea to help — hawk to hawk.
“It’s a small thing,” Macfadyen said, “but we all have a responsibility to respond to criminal activity and help deter such behavior.
“As a community, if we abide vandalism like that, shame on us.”
Macfadyen contacted Kingston with an offer to help raise the money to replace the weathervane, and then called one of Noozhawk’s strategic partners, givezooks! Joe Fazio, co-founder and vice president of product strategy at the online nonprofit fundraising company, immediately signed on.
In a joint project, Noozhawk will publicize the fundraising drive and givezooks! has donated the platform to accept tax-deductible online donations and reach out to prospective donors through e-mail and social media.
The Harding School Foundation is the nonprofit entity through which the fundraising is funneled, foundation president Brian Robinson said. The foundation has financed activities such as the school’s second-grade play, drama club and field-trip transportation.
Robinson said the small act of vandalism made people realize what the symbol meant to the heritage and pride at the school, which was built in 1927.
“I didn’t appreciate what it meant for the school until it was gone,” he said. “There was a sense of school pride that came from it when it disappeared.”
Students are taking action, as well. More than 200 kids have voiced their concern through hand-drawn pictures and letters explaining the significance of the hawk and pleading for aid. One of the submissions is from sixth-grader Lupita Torres.
“The hawk was like a treasure to us,” Lupita’s letter reads. “But now if you look up our building, our hawk is not there. Someone stole our hawk. When we found out it broke our heart to little pieces ... please have the heart to donate money to us. It would really put our hearts back together again.”
Robinson said he is gratified by the early response.
“It really shows how much people care about the school’s integrity,” he told Noozhawk. “It seems like a small, insignificant act of vandalism, but it was very important to people. The response is indicative of the type of people who care about quality of education and our community.”
Harding officials hope to have the funds raised for the new hawk by Aug. 20, when the school will host a grand reopening and celebration of its new name: Harding University Partnership School. The event is open to the public and begins at 5:30 p.m.
Click here to make a tax-deductible online donation to the Harding Hawk Project through givezooks!
Click here for a related article about the Harding Hawk Project and Noozhawk’s reasons for participating.
Tomorrow: Harding School has a proud history, and a bright future.