The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

WHS senior restores playground figure


Diana Zimmerman

Wahkiakum High School senior Cody Terpsma has been working to rehabilitate the Cat in the Hat, which has been sitting in storage after spending many years on the playground subject to weather and climbing kids.

Wahkiakum High School senior Cody Terpsma remembers the wood sculpture of the Cat in the Hat that sat in the playground at J.A. Wendt from the days when he played there as a child.

So when he found it sitting in storage in one of the buildings on school grounds, he lobbied to make it one of his projects this year.

See, Terpsma didn't have a class for fourth period. Knowing he liked to use his hands and that he had a background in construction, he says Principal Stephanie Leitz connected him with Administrative Director Brent Freeman.

"I like working with my hands," Terpsma said. "I don't really like school that much. I don't like sitting in a chair and doing nothing. I'm a hyper kid. I don't plan on being in a desk job for my entire life. I plan on going out and doing stuff."

He has been working off and on in construction since his sophomore year and so he used some of the skills he picked up around the school.

"I started by doing a concrete ramp for Mason Wilson," Terpsma continued. "Then I hung heaters in the greenhouse. I drywalled in Mr. Hurley's shop, and put up drywall in this space behind the bleachers. I also put in a bench and hung a rod for hangers for a clothing bank that another student had started."

When he found the Cat in the Hat, it was "all battered and beat up." In December he got the go ahead to start working on it.

"The hat was destroyed," Terpsma said.

A section in the top of it was gone. He created a form to fill it and made a new brim, spending a lot of time with a sander to make sure it was uniform. He used a rotary saw and a band saw to create the shape. He also considered the direction of the grain. If kids try to hang on it again, it won't break like it did before.

The paint was faded. It had spent so much time out in the weather it had become discolored. Terpsma repainted the gloves and the hat. He added a clear coat of lacquer to protect it.

The good news is that it will find a new home in the library at the grade school just in time for the Dr. Seuss National Reading Month.

Terpsma is on the baseball team. He loves the sport so much he started working as an umpire two years ago.

Last year he umpired games for 12 and 13 year olds. This year, he hopes to work high school age games over the summer.

"As you get more years in, you get to open up to older kids," Terpsma said. "It's a blast. It's a sport I love. Getting to be there, getting paid to watch, to facilitate a sport I love is just awesome."

The pay is good, but some days are long. Sometimes he gets up at 7 a.m. to work his first game in Longview at 9 a.m. and then doesn't get home until 7 p.m.

What's next for the senior? He's not completely sure, but he might go to college and take several different industrial classes in order to pick up a variety of skills. Or he might do a little welding at a steel manufacturing plant.

Something like that.

One thing is for sure. That Cat in the Hat will still be at the school, looking good for students for years to come, thanks to him.

Nobody is sure who created the wood sculpture in the first place, but we know who cared enough to restore it so it could be shared with future Mules.

You did that, Cody. Thank you.


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