Fate of high school mural hangs in the balance
By MARY JO WINTER / Cloverdale Correspondent
A large mural on the outside of a former shop building at Cloverdale High School has become the focus of concern and controversy by current residents and graduates of the school.
School board members have voted to paint over it, with at least one calling it “outdated and faded.” Their plan is to memorialize the mural by photographing it, mounting it on canvas and then placing it in a prominent spot on campus with signage and historical information.
Painted by students nearly 40 years ago, the mural is a sentimental piece of the school’s history. It depicts the school’s mascot, an eagle, vineyards, a river and a rainbow ending at a pot of gold emblazoned with the initials CHS.
Cricket Calvert says, “I would love to help save that wall. It’s our history. Someone in that town needs a few history lessons on what all of the symbols on that wall mean.”
Trustee Joanne Argyres is also opposed to the idea of painting over the mural and was the only school board member to vote against it. “The mural depicts the small town charm of Cloverdale,” she says. “It’s the Cloverdale I remember. It represents our community spirit and involvement and I see nothing wrong with it.”
In 1979, the mural was defaced when someone, possibly from a rival high school, tossed red and white paint on it. Beginning that summer, members of the high school art class spent an estimated 185 hours cleaning and restoring the mural to its original condition. The work was finally completed on November 4, 1980.
Part of the reason it took so long was because only two students were able to work on it over the summer months. Another was that each of the colors had to be mixed by hand so they would match.
Numerous comments have been posted on Facebook in support of preserving the mural. Many have suggested refreshing the colors to brighten it up a bit, but very few have said painting over it is a good idea.
According to Cathy Crittendon, CHS Class of ’77, “My good friends painted this mural over 35 years ago as a testament to the City of Cloverdale, CHS and our pride and belief in this community. This mural is truly part of CHS history. It represents the exuberance and joy for the town we grew up loving and living in. Do not let anyone destroy that.”
On the other side of the coin, Kristy Frederick Jennings said, “I understand it’s history to some from so many years ago, but let some new class make history with a new, fresh mural. That one has seen its day.” She later suggested having each new graduating class freshen the current mural and add something of their own to it.
Greg Reeder said he would be really upset if it was removed. “Let’s not destroy history or tradition for the sake of modernization.”
“Some things should never change so we do not forget the people who worked to make our little town what it is,” noted Don Gaylor, another CHS grad. “Growth is good, but if you forget your past, it will come back to haunt you. Leave something behind for the next generation to reflect upon from our generation.”
Vicki Allen, daughter-in-law of John L. Allen for whom the high school field is named, commented, “I don’t live in Cloverdale, but I grew up there and graduated in 1970. The mural was painted after I left. I feel we destroy too much of our past. Without our past, the town loses its soul. We’ve lost so much of our small town already. Every time I visit, there is another piece of our history gone. We need to remember where we came from.”
The school board plans to get the high school’s current students involved in the final decision making process and will let them weigh in on the fate of the mural.
This means there is still a little time left for the community to voice their opinions, too.
Do you agree with the Board’s decision to paint over the mural or not? Let the school board to know how you feel.
Email addresses for the individual trustees can be found on the District’s website. Letters can also be mailed to 97 School St., Cloverdale CA 95425.
What do you think? Should it stay or should it go? Please share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions in the Comments section below.