AHS students protest removal of mural

| Daily TidingsAshland High School students protest the censoring of a mural on Thursday.

About 100 Ashland High School students lined Siskiyou Boulevard during lunch on Thursday to protest the removal of the senior mural, which the administration said showed a little too much skin.

"I was just surprised so many people came," said Colette Par&

233;-Miller, one of the student artists who designed the scene with a scantily clad Harry Potter. "It just feels great to have all that community support."


233;-Miller painted the mural along with Alex Levine, Sage Trail and Djamika Smith. They appealed the decision to Superintendent Juli Di Chiro on Tuesday and went ahead with plans for a protest after the school's decision stood.

Students chanted slogans such as "What's the problem with our bodies? He's not showing any naughties," and were joined by parents with signs reading "Give our students their minds back."

The protest was organized by Polly Griest, a high school parent who was wearing a T-shirt with the offending mural printed on the front.

"For most of these students, I'm assuming it's their first experience protesting," she said. "We wanted to show students that a big part of the community is behind them."

One student protestor asked Dean of Students Glenna Stiles if she was offended by the picture on the T-shirts.

"What my decision would be is kind of irrelevant at some point," she told the student. "I'm always going to side with the administration, not because I necessarily agree. We are in a position of making judgment calls on a daily basis."

For example, the school also screens acts before the annual battle of the bands and monitors lyrics of songs played at prom for profanity or slander against women, she said.

"We don't allow those types of things even if it is art," she said. "We have to make a judgment of what is appropriate for the entire student body. We're not going to make everyone happy."


233;-Miller, who had another art project featuring abstract genitalia censored earlier this year during a First Friday art walk at Briscoe Elementary, said she didn't see why the administration would deem the mural inappropriate.

"The first time, it was like, 'OK, it's genitals. I understand.' But this time we had everything covered up. We made an effort to make it appropriate."

Debra Koutnik, the mother of artist Sage Trail, said she felt the school's actions limited the students' ability to think for themselves.

"The high school administration shouldn't be censoring student art, especially in a case like this where it's extremely appropriate. There's nothing offensive or indecent about the art," she said. "If they had put the mural up and there had been a big outcry from the students, that would be one thing," she said.

Sylvain Brown, a senior protesting with an 'X' of masking tape over his mouth, said he was just glad to see his classmates taking a stand.

"I believe that America's youth in general don't do enough rallies and this is getting America's youth activated," he said.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or jfrench@daiytidings.com.

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