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After going missing for over a month, a local elementary school’s beloved signed was returned.

Irving Elementary School’s sign, posted at the corner of 8th and Alderson streets, went missing in early April and was returned last month, according to the school’s principal Jennifer Westphal.

The sign, which was considered an important symbol of the school’s history, was found in mid-May by Montana State University facilities. Westphal said the school was not told where on campus it was found but they were grateful to have it returned.

“While I know this was probably some sort of college prank as it was found on the MSU campus, our students, staff and families were very hurt by this act and small children should not have to suffer for a prank,” Westphal said.

Before the sign had been found, Westphal sent a survey to students, staff and families with options on how to replace the lost sign. They could recreate the old sign as closely as possible, create a new sign with the school’s most recent logo or have a contest for students to enter ideas for a new sign.

Westpahl said it was close but ultimately the school community opted to make a new sign with the school’s updated logo, which includes its owl mascot and a world symbol.

When the sign went missing in April, Westphal had originally assumed the district’s facilities department had removed it to have it fixed or it had possibly been knocked over in a recent wind storm. The school’s resource officer filed a police report but Westphal said it was unlikely to be recovered unless someone came forward with information.

The older sign includes the phrase “International Education,” a key element in the school’s identity. Historically, Westphal said, the school has been one of the more diverse schools in the district, and the sign represented that.

Irving’s attendance boundary area draws from MSU graduate students who traditionally lived in the university’s family and graduate housing. Many of the graduate students were international students, according to Westphal.

The school also holds an annual international day celebration in May, and this year marked its’ 34th celebration.

With the older sign returned, the school has decided to place it in the school’s gym and move forward with having a new sign made.

“It feels great to keep a part of our history while moving into the future,” Westphal said.

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Liz Weber can be reached at lweber@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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