Riverview School District

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Rabena The Raven Takes Flight at the Riverview Learning Center

The story of the newest addition to the Riverview Learning Center (“RLC”), Rabena the Raven, begins with self-reflection, an internet search, and the discovery of a remote artist, living in the peaceful quiet of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, unaware that a staff of educators, some 300 miles away, were ready to reach out to him with an elaborate idea.

Rabena the Raven

Culminating in more than a year’s worth of collaboration, in September 2016, Riverview School District Superintendent Dr. Anthony L. Smith joined Principal John Bomar, and RLC CLIP Lead Teacher Tina Malm and PARADE teacher Carol Gould, at a dedication ceremony unveiling the astonishing piece of art created by wood-carving artist Glen Rabena. The RLC Raven, named “Rabena the Raven”, not only serves as a mascot to the school, but also a reflection on philosophy and a further defining of how the school serves its student population.

“We started to think about how a mascot might represent who we are,” shared Malm, with students and families at the dedication. “What happens here is that people come in and leave changed. And that is what the symbol of the Raven is really all about. He represents metamorphosis and change, and the symbology is about finding your place and putting yourself out in the world.”

Gould, who also serves as the school district’s Professional Learning Leader for the Arts, spoke about connecting with Rabena and how the conversations shifted from a logo for the school to something bigger and more grand.

“Kris Rodger (RLC secretary) started the hunt and a gathering of student ideas led to my finding Glen Rabena’s work online. I stole his artwork and changed it, and then I asked permission,” Gould said to laughter from those in attendance. “I sent him an e-mail and told him who we are, and shared that we are a school and were wondering if it is okay if we use a version of your artwork. Generously he said ‘Use it freely, do anything you want with it, I love what you have done.’ And so we came up with our logo that you see throughout the school now.”

Adaptations of Glen Rabena's artwork, which inspired Rabena the Raven at the Riverview Learning Center.

The creation of Rabena however took a little more work, requiring a second contact, from a certain Superintendent, who was enamored with the idea from the get-go.

Gould added, “I sent Glen an e-mail and asked him if he would be interested in designing a piece of artwork for a very large space. He didn’t answer me back, as he is often very busy, but when the Superintendent sends him an e-mail (laughter), he answered back and said, ‘Yes, I would be very interested.’”

Throughout the ceremony, collaboration was mentioned again and again. Dr. Smith celebrated everyone working together in his remarks. He also revealed that he had the delicate task of transporting the wood-plank sculpture from the remote Hornby Island in British Columbia, across three ferries, one international border crossing, and some 250 miles to the school site in Carnation.

“I want to thank my wife Kathy, who gets dragged into different projects I am involved in within the District, but was very enthusiastic about this one,” he said. “We were talking about how would we be able to haul this back from Hornby Island and she said, ‘I measured the inside of the Durango and I know that this can fit!’ This had to be brought back in sections and it did fit! I had to ride shotgun from Hornby Island to Denman Island to Vancouver Island to the mainland, across the border and down here. We delivered this piece at 1:30 a.m., on a Monday morning, the last weekend of June.”

In his dedication remarks, Dr. Smith took a moment to celebrate the Riverview Learning Center and thanked the previous principals at the school, and everyone who collaborated on the installation. He also shared the comments of a sixth grade PARADE student: “I always try and get student voice in everything and I had the chance to ask Shannon what she thought this Raven represented. She said ‘Strong and Proud.’”

The ceremony was concluded with remarks by new principal John Bomar, who praised the families and staff at the school for fostering a sense of belonging.

“Students, when you come through the door, you should feel like you belong here, no matter what part of this school you are in. Parents, you should feel like you belong here. You should feel like you can call a teacher, or call me, or talk to Kris, when she is at the desk, or any of us and feel like there is a sense of belonging and community. And that’s what it is all about. We are trying to help students learn, and go on and have successful lives, careers, in whatever they choose. We want to support them in that.”

In closing, Bomar looked at Rabena the Raven, hanging behind him, and offered, “Ravens are an interesting bird, they are very intelligent. And so we want to extrapolate that with our students and push them to find what their intelligences are. There is more than just 'book-smarts.' We want our students to understand and recognize where their strengths are as they move forward.”

Rabena the Raven is on display permanently at the Riverview Learning Center.

To learn more about Glen Rabena and his artwork, visit: www.glenrabena.com
For more information about the programs offered at the Riverview Learning Center, please visit their website at: rlc.riverview.wednet.edu or contact the school directly at (425) 844-4960.