Cat who loves high school to be honored with art show

The official mascot for Westbrook High School is the Blue Blaze. But the school near Portland, Me., might want to think about switching to the Kitty Cats.

OK, that won't have rivals quaking under the Friday night lights, but the name would be appropriate. After all, Simba, a cat, has been roaming the halls of Westbrook for more than a dozen years. Now, in honor of his loyalty, the 15-year-old feline is set to be honored with an art show inspired by his cuddly nature.

WMTW reports that Simba, who lives nearby, likes to greet the students at the school's front doors before going classroom-to-classroom to check things out. Senior Kim Larley told reporter Steve Minich that Simba will "show up in class and sit on people's text books and just intrude."

But she's not complaining. Everyone in the school seems to dig the cat, who refuses to graduate. As superintendent Marc Gousse put it, "Animals are very warm. They're calming. They bring a sense of peace." Good thing, because anyone who's suffered through it knows that high school can be a stressful place.

The students of Westbrook will have the art show featuring portraits of the cat on April 4. Simba's owner, Eileen Shutts, is reportedly planning to attend.

School art director Carol Conner said, "I just see such an emotional connection and real care about this creature. He has such a calming effect on all of us." School reps told WMTW that they are careful about keeping Simba away from students with allergies.

Simba's story is certainly remarkable but he's not the only feline who has made an unusual impression at a local school. Back in December, Sable the cat was thrust into the national spotlight when it was revealed she had been serving as an unofficial crosswalk guard at a Washington State middle school for years.