Hillside 'A' could return

When Jean Frazier was a sophomore at Ashland High School &

back in 1946 &

it was her class' job to paint a large, white "A" on the hillside of Grizzly Peak.

Such letters, denoting the name of a local high school, overlook small towns across the nation.

"In Kansas, they put them on water towers," Frazier said.

She added that they are "a matter of civic pride."

In that spirit, Frazier is trying to revive the tradition. She has been talking to AHS officials about getting the big white "A" repainted on the side of Grizzly Peak facing the high school.

"I'm a great one for traditions," Frazier said. "Years ago, a little girl mentioned it to me and I thought, well why not get that started again.

She has approached the leadership program, the group of class officers who plan activities like homecoming weekend, about the idea.

Aaron Sturdevant, the advisor to the leadership program, said, "students are excited about it." Although he added that, to date, he hasn't brought it up in an official capacity with them.

School faculty has begun to do informal inspections of the site, which is on private land owned by Rocky Younger of Portland, and Frazier had a lawyer draw up a release form so students can go on the property.

Sturdevant said he would prefer to start the project in the fall, rather than the spring, because it might better serve school spirit if done then.

"It seems to make more sense to do at the beginning of the school year, rather than the end, to get students excited about extra-curricular activities," he said. "It would be done with the idea of generating more school spirit."

But just because Sturdevant would prefer it to be a fall project, rather than a spring project doesn't mean it won't happen this spring.

He also said, "It could possibly get done in the next few weeks."

A 1990 graduate of Ashland High School, Sturdevant said the last time the big "A" was painted on the side of Grizzly Peak was in the 1988-89 school year. He said he didn't know why the tradition faded out of fashion.

Both he and Frazier are somewhat worried that parts of the Ashland community might have a negative reaction to the idea.

"People who grew up here and remember it would be excited," Sturdevant said. "But people who recently moved here might not get as excited, because they don't have the ties to the school."

Frazier put it bluntly.

"I'm a little worried about public opinion," she said. "People might think we are going to put a scar on the vista and the scenery."

She said, so far, she has gotten only positive feedback, but added, "we should get some public opinion."

"When people complained about the big flag over the bank, I thought, well this is going to rile them up to no end."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x. 226 or .

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