Community has mixed reactions to school’s painting over 21-year-old mural

Bianca Hansen
The current gym wall was painted over in a light cream on Aug. 27.

Students arrived back to school on Aug. 28 for orientation to find the colorful mural on the gym wall gone.

The mural, filled with vividly painted green vines and facial features such as a gray pair of eyes and a bright cherry-colored mouth, stretched from the gym’s main entrance to the doors to the weight room. It also included “ABCDE” in gray, seriffed letters.

All that remains is a beige wall.

So what happened?

On Sunday, Aug. 27, the mural was painted over by the school.

“The mural was very weather worn,” head of school Lee Thomsen said. “It didn’t show the school in the best light.”

The original artists of the mural were Jessica Kreig, ‘96, and Schuyler Ellers, ‘96, co-presidents of the National Art Honor Society in 1995-96.

In a May 24, 1996, Octagon article, Ellers said that they were painting the mural “to leave a legacy to the school, a reminder of our three years’ dynasty as presidents of the NAHS.”

That legacy lasted for 21 years, as the mural was finished in May 1996 and remained untouched until August 2017.

Students and faculty had mixed reactions to the removal.

Junior artist Sophie Naylor said she didn’t particularly like the mural.

“I was kind of getting tired of the old mural,” Naylor said. “So I didn’t mind that it got removed.”

But Naylor also doesn’t like the wall blank.

(Photo used by permission of Jack Christian)
Seniors Smita Sikaria and Esme Bruce-Romo in front of the mural during Spirit Week in fall 2016.

“Hopefully, the school will allow us to paint something new in its place,” Naylor said.

Thomsen said he was open to the idea of replacing the mural.

“We should discuss as a community whether we should replace it with signage like, ‘Go, Cavaliers,’ or another mural,” Thomsen said.

However, senior Nico Burns was more unhappy to see it go.

“I’ve been here for so long that it’s strange not to see anything when I walk into the gym,” Burns said. “It’s just sad.”

PE teacher Michelle Myers could relate to Burns.

“I had an emotional discourse when I learned that the mural was being painted over,” Myers said.

“That night when I heard, I was very sullen and quiet.”

Myers watched the original painting of the mural in 1996 and reflected back on those memories.

“I remember just sitting there and watching them for hours paint and piece together that beautiful mural,” Myers said.

“After it was finished, no one was allowed to throw any balls against it or anything else because it was a piece of art.”

—By Jack Christian

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