The Bronco Project reaches for the sky

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The Bronco Project reaches for the sky

An Icon of Vista: As the school mascot, the bronco reflects Vista Murrieta's culture, as the new statue exemplifies

An Icon of Vista: As the school mascot, the bronco reflects Vista Murrieta's culture, as the new statue exemplifies

Savannah Pahl

An Icon of Vista: As the school mascot, the bronco reflects Vista Murrieta's culture, as the new statue exemplifies

Savannah Pahl

Savannah Pahl

An Icon of Vista: As the school mascot, the bronco reflects Vista Murrieta's culture, as the new statue exemplifies

Amanda Beyer, Staff Writer

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The Bronco Project, a student initiative on campus, has achieved its goal of erecting a bronco statue in the front of the school. Put up earlier this month, the statue marks the success of the club’s fundraising effort that began almost two years ago. 

RJ Cárdenas, president of the Bronco Project, said, “The inspiration started from want for a way for not only the Bronco Project but for anyone at school to leave their mark. One of the very first things we did as a club that first year was sell legacy bricks. These bricks were a way for students, teachers, and parents to leave just that- a legacy. However, over time this project has evolved to much more than that. Not only do we see it as a legacy, but as a testament to what it means to have C.L.A.S.S., an image of the Bronco spirit incarnate. We hope that anyone coming to this school, whether as a student or a guest, immediately knows what it means to be a Bronco, and what pride we have for our school.” 

In addition to being president of the club, Cárdenas was behind the conception of the statue and sought out an advisor for the club during the Back to School Dance of the previous school year. 

Cárdenas said, The idea was one of those spur of the moment things. It was the summer of 2017- the summer after my freshman year- and I was visiting a rival high school for one of my brother’s track meets when I saw a statue of their mascot. It was all bronze and glinted in the sun. It was one of those things that you look at and think ‘Wow these people must really have a pride for their school.’ I just kinda looked at it and thought, ‘You know what, we can do that.’” 

With an initial goal of $7,000 and initially expected to carry through another year, the project’s multifaceted approach to fundraising proved quite successful. After contacting Water Wise, a local landscape designer, the club located an artist willing to create the statue for $2,400. Funded through donation chests at football games, legacy bricks, Valentines’ grams, dodgeball snack bars, and a GoFundMe page, the club was able to raise enough money in a short amount of time. 

“[A]ll the pieces seemed to come together just right, and we managed to purchase [the statue] this year… We were truly blessed to have such great support. It has really felt like the community has been rallying around this idea,” said Cárdenas. 

The club reached their fundraising goal in December, while the administration began preparing the planter on which the bronco statue was to be put up. Finalization of the planter and creation of the bronco itself took place in February. It was more than just luck that facilitated the realization of the project’s goals, however. Club advisor Kaylee Olsen notes that the initiative of the students was a major factor in their success as well. 

Said Olsen, “They were so organized and thinking, with a proposal binder on how they wanted to do the project. They met with Mr. Wager, Mr. Bean on the project and proposed it. Once that just approved, they started fundraising like crazy. The group of students was absolutely amazing- really organized and driven to get it done.” 

In the actual creation of the statue, the club knew that they wanted to source the artist locally. It was the students who found the artist, switching from their initial choice after receiving a better bid from a different one. After finding the artist, the club remained involved in the design. They were decided on its size being over 12 feet (the same or bigger, Cárdenas noted, than a real bronco) and pose (rearing up on its hind legs). 

Cárdenas  said, “After each step of the process, as we saw the improvements slowly being made to the planter, our group got more and more excited. When the day finally came for the installation, we were all elated… At first, it really was unreal. To see that thing you’ve worked so hard for and for so long finally bear fruit- it can’t be adequately conveyed through words. The statue, we understand, is going to mean different things to different people. We are so happy with the reception it has received thus far, and how so many have already taken to the statue. We are delighted to know that this will be at the school for many years to come, and for so many future generations to enjoy.” 

It was not only the students of the project who appreciated the statue, however; Olsen was similarly pleased with the statue. 

“I love it. I think it turned out amazing. I’m really excited. There’s actually an Instagram page on the horse now, so people have been sending pictures in. It’s been totally making my day. I love seeing the students take the pictures,” said Olsen. 

The success of the project is especially sweet for the Bronco Project Club because despite their prompt  accomplishment, there were many difficulties with which they had to contend before the bronco statue came to Vista Murrieta. Now, the statue stands as a mark of what they have achieved. 

Said Cárdenas“Some of our biggest challenges were really a culmination of things. At some points it was red tape, at others, it was maybe a bad day of fundraising. At many points, it felt like there were so many things in our way. It was despite this, however, that we still found the resolve to push through. What we can proudly say is that despite the many challenges we had to overcome and hoops we had to jump through, we did it. And at the beginning, middle, and end of the day, we realize that it was worth it. This project was never really about us; it was about giving back to this wonderful school. The experience we’ve gained from this wild ride is something I’m sure we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives.” 

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