"Papa Bear" statue dedicated to Mike Maryanski

"Papa Bear" statue dedicated to Mike Maryanski
Posted on 10/22/2019
School Board members Tami Henkel and Mary Jane Glaser, former superintendent Mike Maryanski and School Board President Didem Pierson
The drums played, horns sounded and pompoms sparkled Monday as former Tahoma superintendent Mike Maryanski was honored in the dedication of the city’s “Papa Bear” sculpture, which is at the roundabout on SE Tahoma Way on the east side of Tahoma High School. The sculpture was selected and funded by the City of Maple Valley and the Public Arts Commission.

School Board member Mary Jane Glaser, who worked with Byron Mucke, one of the founding members of the city’s Public Arts Commission to help bring the project to fruition, spoke at the dedication ceremony. The city purchased the piece, and Colorado artist Dan Ostermiller sculpted the artwork, which was installed in January.

The piece needed a name, so Glaser asked if they would consider calling it “Papa Bear,” which was Maryanski’s nickname during his time as superintendent, from 1993 until he retired in 2014. Glaser credited Maryanski’s efforts to secure funding for the high school, including $4 million in state funds to purchase the Tahoma High School site. “He was a huge part of the collaboration going to Olympia” and asking Legislators for funding.

“We felt naming the sculpture was a fitting tribute to Mike Maryanski, who devoted his entire career to this district,” Glaser said, noting that Maryanski was known for encouraging an atmosphere of collaboration. “Please recognize a wonderful man who has brought so much to our school district and our community, Mike Maryanski.”

Speaking briefly to the crowd, Maryanski said that he has several grandchildren who have attended Tahoma schools.

“It would be nice if they could come around and see that their granddad had a little bit of something to do with this,” he said, gesturing to the new high school, and the city’s adjacent Summit Park fields and skate park. “Thank you so very much for this.”

The plaque states that the statue is “Dedicated to Mike Maryanski for his service to the Tahoma School District and commitment to the education of our children.”

Before the speeches, members of the Tahoma High School marching band, drum line and cheerleading team performed for the crowd; and bear claw pastries were served.
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