Painting of the rock leads to controversy
at Vashon Island High School
By Malia Grantor, Reporter
The senior rock, originally added to Vashon Island High School’s campus in 1988, was intended to decrease vandalism within the school and express freedom of speech, but has since become more controversial. Even in its first year the rock had an impact when it was added to the VHS campus in 1988. Jackie Merrill, Office Manager attended VHS that year and it happened to be her fathers construction company the rock added to campus. There was much excitement following the rock being added, In fact the yearbook in 88 was titled “The Rock”. Merrill explains the traditions.
“There’s probably 1000 layers of paint on it. So it has been used over and over and enjoyed,” Merrill said.
The unwritten ‘rules’ about the rock are mixed, especially when it comes to who has full reign. However, when the rock first arrived at VHS students were very enthusiastic about it.
“It also created class competition, because some underclassmen would paint [it] over,” Merrill said.
The disputed notions on who can rightfully paint the rock, has led to controversy this year. Some people believe the rock is exclusive to them and others don’t have the right to paint on it.
“I wasn’t supposed to be one of the people who could touch the rock. I’m a senior as much as all of the other seniors, but it felt like I wasn’t the kind of person that was supposed to be allowed to mess with the rock,” an anonymous senior said.
The rock was originally intended to promote inclusion, however some find it surprising how exclusive it actually is. The rock was meant to be a physical object that would be used for students to express themselves, not just as individuals but as a community.
“Originally, it was never just the seniors’ rock. Just happened to be the senior class that had the rock put there,” Merrill said.
Now students are wondering, who should have the authority to paint the rock? Some seniors think painting the rock is a good tradition that should only be utilized by the senior class.
“I think that only seniors should be able to paint the rock because it’s tradition. They do it every year and it would be weird if someone other than a VHS senior painted the rock,” another anonymous senior said.
Even if designs aren’t up for long, the designs still make their point. A senior explained that their creation was left up for long enough, so when it was covered they weren’t disappointed.
“[The design] lasted longer than I thought it would. Had it been covered up the next day, I would have been mad because that would have felt like a direct attack. But it stayed up for a while and that didn’t bother me,” a different anonymous senior said.
It’s clear that the rock means many different things to everyone. Merril hopes more seniors paint the rock so everyone can express their ideas and artistic opinions.
“It’d be nice if it got painted like once a month with some kind of cool message or just maybe a theme,” Merrill said.