“Wheeler Wolf” Comes to Life Through Educator’s Artistic Talents
Posted on 01/24/2023

Frank T. Wheeler Elementary School’s wolf mascot has “come to life” thanks to a unique piece of art created by former Wheeler faculty member, Matthew Guarino.  Guarino, a longtime Plainville Community Schools employee, also served as the Middle School of Plainville Principal prior to his retirement in 2021, and currently works as a tutor at Wheeler School.  Guarino logged many weekend hours planning for and bringing the new Wheeler wolf sculpture to fruition on site at the elementary school. 

According to Wheeler Principal, Andrew Batchelder, the wolf “commission” was born from a conversation he had with Guarino earlier this year while walking through the school together.  “I pointed out the old, iconic oak tree in the back of Wheeler to Matt one day, and explained that the tree would be cut down due to its age and condition. Several Wheeler parents had suggested something be made from the tree if possible, since it is such an integral part of the Wheeler landscape. I asked Matt, who is also a talented artist, what he thought about possibly carving a wolf sculpture into the stump of the tree once it was cut down, and without hesitation he agreed, saying yes, I can do that!”

Guarino explained that in preparation for the project, he had initially asked that the tree be cut to approximately 8 feet in height, to ideally be able to complete the carving.  Instead, the tree was cut, but the stump measured 10 feet in height, so Guarino cut off approximately two additional feet to accommodate the carving project, and was able to also create a “Reading Partner Chair” with the extra tree piece, where students enjoy sitting, hanging out and reading together. After many hours of work and three shades of stain, the Wheeler wolf carving was completed and now sits proudly on the school’s grounds.

 “It was my pleasure to give my time to carve the Wheeler Wolf.  I enjoyed every minute of it!” noted Guarino.

 “On behalf of the Wheeler school community, we thank Mr. G. for his selfless, extraordinary act of kindness and we are grateful to him for showing his love and commitment to Wheeler School through his rare, artistic, wood carving / sculpting ability,” commented Batchelder.

Guarino was recognized at the January 9th Plainville Board of Education meeting where he received a “PCS All Star Award” for the wolf carving project.

Having a beautifully crafted, 8 foot Wheeler Wolf carving for all to admire is a wonderful thing, made only more meaningful and special because of its creator.  Mr. Guarino is an incredibly interesting and uniquely talented individual who offered to complete this project, starting with a huge tree base, and molding and forming it into a work of art.  This parallels his impact on those he has worked with and served as an educator for close to 40 years, mostly in Plainville and also at CCSU.  Mr. Guarino has always impressed those around him with his unique and versatile interests and talents, from his love of snakes, to all forms of art, and now large wood sculptures.  Not many know that Mr. Guarino earned an advanced black belt in his earlier years as well as many other achievements.  He is certainly a talented individual, whom this Plainville community has been fortunate to have serving children for decades.  We are grateful to Mr. Guarino for this thoughtful expression of kindness and gratitude to Wheeler School, where he began his career, and where he has chosen to continue his post administrative retirement career.  We are truly grateful for this gift of time, talent, and love to the Wheeler and Plainville communities,” said Superintendent of Schools, Steven LePage.