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The Eagle Has Landed

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When renovations began this year on a Washington, D.C., hotel, there was no place in the new decor for two rare birds: a pair of seven-foot-tall, copper and gold-leaf statues of American eagles that had guarded the entrance for 25 years.

But the hotel's managers thought they knew where the statues might find a warm welcome.

They wrote letters to 53 American towns with the word "Eagle" in their names, offering to give one statue to the town with the best plan for its use.

The letters that came from 216 students in Eagle, Wis., made the decision an easy one, said Richard J. Cotter, general manager of the Omni Georgetown Hotel. The eagle, valued at $6,000, will soon grace the new Eagle Elementary School in that town of 1,854.

"Nothing ever happens in our little community," wrote 4th grader Kim Janecek. "If we got an eagle, our little town would become famous.''

"I'll take care of it the rest of my life," wrote her classmate, Jace Schubert.

Second graders promised that the bird would remain free of graffiti forever, and 5th-grade students guaranteed that the 85-pound statue would never be stolen.

Mr. Cotter said he was delighted to receive drawings of eagles and cut-out pictures of the birds from kindergarten and 1st-grade students.

One of the most convincing letters was from 4th grader Jason Kruswicki, who said: "If it doesn't [fit], we will just put a hole in the roof and fix it."

The Wisconsin town was the only applicant that planned to place the eagle in a school. The hotel has not decided what to do with the second eagle, Mr. Cotter said.

The eagle arrived at the school just before Christmas, according to the principal, Donna M. Kalnes.

At the presentation ceremony, U.S. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. read a letter of congratulations from President Reagan.

And to show their gratitude, students altered the words to the school fight song as the statue was unveiled and sang, "Hail to the eagle.''

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