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Everyone knows turtles aren't known for their speed, but it's more than a half century for a replacement turtle to make its way to a local school.

More than 50 years since the disappearance of the original, a new turtle sculpture will be celebrated Saturday on the East Aurora High School campus, with a little help from the class of 1954.

A bronze turtle used to lie at the feet of a statue of Michelangelo on the school's old Roycroft campus. But sometime in the 1950s, after the statue, by sculptor Paul Wayland Bartlett, was moved to the new campus in the center of town, vandals reportedly made off with it.

The main building that once housed all 13 grades is now East Aurora Middle School, but the 1954 graduates will return Saturday morning as part of their 50th reunion to celebrate a new turtle sculpture they have installed there.

The turtle was the trademark of Bartlett, an famously slow and deliberate sculptor. When those who commissioned his art complained about his belabored process, he would send them a bronze turtle with a note that read, "Good art takes time."

Jeri Lindstrom, a reunion committee leader, said that John Sly and Gerry Slade, two classmates, joined forces to find a turtle and have it installed. Sly found the turtle at a garden shop, and Slade was in charge of placing it on the statue's base.


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