Mariner Symbols and The History Behind Them

Collage of small boat propeller, wood carved orca, and glass orca.

Raquel Hart Renander (she/her), Mariner News Section Editor

There are many interesting and informational symbols around Mariner that some people may not know much about or are confused as to why they’re there, and a lot of them have a more important meaning than just the architecture, whether they are old and damaged, or new and renovated.

Mariner High School was designed by William Arild Johnson & Associates. It was built in 1968 but officially opened on September 8th, 1970. It has had many renovations since then, but there are a few symbols and pieces that catch a lot of people’s attention. For example, some of the statues resemble parts of boats, like the boat propellers at the front of the school, the number at the front of the propellers usually represent the size in diameter and the pitch of it. The smallest boat propeller was the first and oldest gift to be given by seniors starting the tradition in 1973.  The boat props capture the theme of our school, like the name Mariner which means a type of sailor directing a boat. There are other various types of symbols connecting to this topic, for example in the hallways there are some that we might not even notice, like the cedar orca statue above the library representing our mascot, it’s a little easier to see when you’re on the 2nd floor. It has a unique wooden design making it hard to pass by once you see it, adding to its artistic value.

Ms. Metzler, a teacher at our school that has been working here for almost 30 years, has collected lots of information about our school’s gifts and symbols along the way, she says, “The wooden Orca statue was a gift from a class of seniors in 2005, they all contributed their money into it and had it created by a chainsaw artist.”

Another interesting art piece inside of the library stands near the entrance in a glass box, resembles an orca whale made of glass, it was a parting gift made in 1996 commissioned by seniors, created by Jennifer Bowman from Fire Designs Glass Studio and made by Pilchuck School of Glass. It has been a tradition for seniors to give the school a parting gift, with some of them being a Ship wheel, an orca on a shield, and even our mascot costume for pep assemblies. There are also many artistic murals on the walls, with one of them being in the main gym. It represents our mascot of an orca, connecting to the theme of the gym being nicknamed, “The Tank,” to resemble something similar to an aquarium or fish tank. Our biggest parting gift has been the 6-panel mural in the commons, it was made by 2 seniors and their art teacher in 1997.

There have been a few senior gifts in our school that were taken away or erased but never forgotten. Some have been taken away in the gym over the years from the gym remodel in 2006, for example, the airbrushed whale in the center court was there from 2001 to 2006. There was also a mural of an orca above the senior bleachers, made in 2002 as a senior gift was also sadly painted over during the remodeling as well. Another interesting symbol was the clay tiles students thought of, made in 2014 for every class to add which are supposed to be similar to the tiles with footprints that some elementary schools have, but the tiles are now lost. Some may also wonder if we are going to continue creating senior gifts and how we might plan due to Covid-19.

Mr. Pope, the Dean Of Students, with this year being his 4th year here, says, “I’m not sure what that [continuing senior gifts] is going to look like, but I think the senior classes, administrators, and staff are planning on what they might do next,”

We’ve had many unique and artistic symbols in our school, hopefully, we get to see more of it and the tradition continues throughout the years.