Big 'A' makes comeback

The big "A" is back.

A large white "A" appeared Thursday on Grizzly Peak. Those responsible for the deed were unknown as of this morning, but an anonymous call to the Ashland Daily Tidings on Thursday suggested that more than one person was involved.

Earlier this spring, Jean Frazier, who attended Ashland High School in the '40s, began to float the idea of getting the big white "A" repainted on the hill facing the school. The last time the "A" was painted on the hillside was during the 1988-89 school year. Frazier said she felt it was a matter of civic pride and pointed out that those types of high school letters are a matter of tradition across small-town America. She reportedly has the property owner's blessing.

Earlier this month, Frazier predicted the 50-foot letter would reappear on the hillside by the last week of July and was quoted in a June 5 story as saying that she would repaint the "A" herself if she had to.

Reached Thursday night she said she did not have a comment at this time, adding that she thinks it's all pretty much been said by those who responded to the Tidings' online poll.

"I don't know what I could say that would enlighten anyone," she said.

The issue touched a nerve with Ashland residents, both for and against the idea. The question regarding whether or not the Ashland School District should support the re-emergence of the letter came up at this week's school board meeting. Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said she didn't think it was a matter for the school district to get involved in, considering how divisive the issue is becoming.

After the story was first published in the Tidings, comments were posted on the Web site at a furious pace. The issue garnered the attention of The Oregonian, which ran its own story on the plan to refurbish the "A."

An unscientific poll about the topic on the Tidings Web site showed high interest in the topic with more than 500 votes cast. Roughly 51 percent favored the letter's return to 43 percent that didn't.

Comments on the Tidings' Web site range from those who consider the high school letter an absurdity leftover from the past to those who agree it could revive a nostalgic sense of community spirit. The question has also engendered snitty comments between those who are "original" Ashlanders and those who are the "granola-crunching escapees" from California.

Most recently, Frazier said she planned to pursue the project with or without public support in the hopes of having the A returned to its previous prominence before the Fourth of July.

Di Chiro said during the school board meeting that she hoped the community could come together to decide if the "A" should return.

Apparently, someone has already made that decision.

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