Elgard the Bull is back.
The statue, a snorting, ready-to-charge symbol of a longtime rivalry between Howard and Glenelg high schools, disappeared decades ago. But now, to celebrate Glenelg's 50th anniversary, a new Elgard has been purchased, and it will be awarded to the winner of tomorrow's football game between the two schools.
"Since we're the oldest two schools, it's our 50th regular-season meeting," said Glenelg Assistant Principal Cameron Rahnama, who had coached football and softball for 10 years at the high school.
"Hopefully, he stays home where he belongs," he added.
Rahnama is helping plan several activities to celebrate the school's five-decade milestone. The football game is to be played tomorrow, and a rededication ceremony, with Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin, Diane Mikulis, the school board chairman, and others, is set for Sunday.
When Glenelg opened, a friendly rivalry developed between it and Howard High, which was about 16 miles to the east. Howard High had first enrolled students in 1952. (The county's third high school, Harriet Tubman, a segregated school for African-Americans, opened in 1949.)
Nobody knows for sure when the black ceramic bull, named Elgard for the last three letters in the names of Glenelg and Howard, first reared its majestic head. But for many years, it went back and forth between the schools, depending on which one had triumphed in football.
Griff Jones Jr., who played football, soccer, baseball and basketball at Glenelg, graduating in 1961, thinks Elgard disappeared in the early 1960s. Rumors circulated that a certain high-ranking school official might have taken it home, he said. But nobody knows for sure.
Joel Isaacs, the booster club president and a 1976 Glenelg graduate, thinks it fell, maybe in the early 1970s. "When ceramic meets concrete, it doesn't last very long," he said. But Rahnama is not drawing any conclusions other than to say that nobody has seen it for the past 30-plus years.
Meanwhile, a new Elgard has been purchased.
"I did a little research, I looked in some old yearbooks and I found some old pictures," said Rahnama. He couldn't find an exact replica, but in at least one way the new Elgard is an improvement over the old.
"This one is bronze, so it's less likely to break," Rahnama said. Just like old times, both teams are eager to win it back.
"Howard's all pumped up about it, and we're all pumped up about it," said Isaacs. "We're all starting to brag about who will take it home."
When Ranhama took Elgard to Trophies and Plaques Unlimited in West Friendship to have it engraved, owner March Girod, a teacher and coach at Glenelg from 1964 to 1966, recognized it immediately.
"When he came through the door carrying it, I knew what it was," Girod said. "That was a pretty big deal with the high school kids."
He added that the bull, both then and now looking as though it is about to charge, is a fitting symbol for the farm families who attended Glenelg. "We were a farm community, almost exclusively," he said.
Even now, this corner of the county seems to move at a slower pace. Jones and Isaacs have seen their children attend Glenelg, which is much larger now, thanks to several additions.
Dixie Everhardt Mertz, a member of the first graduating class, in 1959, said she had 47 classmates in her senior class. She was not happy to switch schools her final year and leave her friends from Lisbon High, she said. But all three of her children have since attended Glenelg.
"Glenelg's kind of a unique area. There are a lot of people who are still around," said Isaacs, who is reaching out to alumni and former teachers who might want to attend other anniversary events, such as a golf tournament next month and a dance in April.
Jones, an insurance agent, said his family has been in the area since 1751. "My kids went to Glenelg, and my grandkids are going to Glenelg," he said.
But even as some things stay the same, others change. "I've seen farms turn into developments. What are you going to do?" he said.
Glenelg at 50
Here are some activities celebrating Glenelg High School's 50th anniversary
home football game against Howard, 2 p.m.
rededication ceremony at the school, 2 p.m.
alumni and friends golf tournament at Turf Valley CC
homecoming parade, noon; football game, 2 p.m.
alumni and friends barn dance, bull roast and auction at Howard County Fairgrounds