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Dragons Assemble

9-foot Dragon sculpture prepares to alight on its perch

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Warren Area High School Student Council President Stephen Ashbaugh stands next to the nine-foot-tall, unique, work-of-art dragon mascot commissioned by student council for placement at the high school.

The dragon has landed… some assembly required.

The 9-foot-tall dragon made of recycled auto parts commissioned by the Warren Area High School student council arrived by truck on Thursday.

It was built by Namfon Suktawee of Scrap Metal Art Thailand — www.scrap-metal-art-thailand.com.

Student Council President Stephen Ashbaugh first reached out to Suktawee about possibly creating a work-of-art mascot for the school in December.

“Namfon was great,” Ashbaugh said. “Shipping was the hard part.”

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Warren Area High School Student Council President Stephen Ashbaugh unwraps a portion of the body of a unique, work-of-art dragon mascot commissioned by student council for placement at the high school.

From Thailand, the dragon was shipped by boat to Los Angeles.

Customs was an adventure.

The Warren County School District board had to approve a customs power of attorney. There were concerns about the ISF filing fee.

Everything cleared up in the end and the dragon was trucked to Cleveland.

At some point along the journey, the crate was apparently stored in “Row: Pop Machine” according to a sticker on one end.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Warren County School District employees Dave Enos (left) and Dave Undercoffer connect the head and body of the nine-foot-tall, unique, work-of-art dragon mascot commissioned by Warren Area High School student council for placement at the high school.

It left Cleveland on a trailer very early Thursday and was at the school by 6:30 a.m.

By shortly after 8 a.m., the wooden crate was off the trailer and on the ground in front of the garage where the dragon was to be stored. “It feels fantastic now that it’s actually here,” Ashbaugh said.

The crate was significantly larger than the garage door.

So, district officials had to open the box and get the dragon out. Dave Undercoffer and Dave Enos used hammers to knock out the ends of the crate.

That’s when Student Council President Stephen Ashbaugh and advisors Tiffany Mandeville and Debbie Hasselman got their first live look at the creature.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Warren Area High School Student Council President Stephen Ashbaugh (left) and Warren County School District employees Dave Undercoffer and Dave Enos unwrap the head of the the nine-foot-tall, unique, work-of-art dragon mascot commissioned by student council for placement at the high school.

They had seen pictures throughout the production and even final results pics.

Ashbaugh requested a change at one point based on the in-progress pictures. Suktawee replaced sharp spikes on the tail with half circles that will prove to be less injurious to the accident-prone.

The crate was smaller than the final dimensions of the dragon.

The creature was shipped in five pieces — body, head, tail, and two wings. It is coated with a protective acrylic lacquer.

Undercoffer and Enos connected the head to the body for photos, then took them back apart for storage.

Ashbaugh said Suktawee ensured him that five people could put the pieces together in less than 10 minutes.

“Even not assembled, it’s exactly what we wanted,” Ashbaugh said.

Final assembly will wait until a concrete pad is poured in the front of the school to support the dragon’s weight.

District Quality Assurance Supervisor Boyd Freeborough said the pad could be poured next week and the dragon will be installed after the concrete is allowed to cure — possibly in the first week of August.

A plaque recognizing those who contributed to the project will be made by students at Warren County Career Center next school year.

Many groups donated — offsetting student council’s portion of the bill. Ashbaugh said his group was prepared to shoulder the majority of the cost. That didn’t happen. More than $9,000 in donations came in, leaving about $3,000 for student council.

Still, “this is the biggest project we’ve ever done,” Ashbaugh said.

The Warren Area High School class of 1989 honored the current class and its own by donating $2019.89.

Another donor was the Sheffield Area High School Student Council, Ashbaugh said. “They wanted to be a part of it.”

The dragon is a gift from student council on the occasion of the completion of a major renovation of the high school — a “capstone,” Ashbaugh said.

“We wanted to have something that belongs to us –something unique,” he said. “People will have to come see it.”