A rock painted outside of Oxford High School is often used for student expression.
“They don’t ask permission, they just paint what they’re feeling,” said Principal Dorothy Potter.
On Wednesday night, students felt the need to speak out on a social justice issue plaguing the country. They painted the large rock black and in white letters wrote “BLM” for black lives matter, and “I can’t breathe,” in memory of George Floyd.
“I support our students and their First Amendment rights and how they’re reacting to the current state of our nation,” said Potter. “If this were to happen and school was in session we would have been pulling our students together in the auditorium, let’s have a conversation about how you’re feeling.”
The spirit rock was purchased about four years ago for students to use whenever and however they wanted.
“I think it’s really cool that we can have something where the students can voice their opinions through illustrations,” said Pat Mucherino, an Oxford High School senior.
In a letter, school superintendent Dr. Jason McKinnon says the views painted on the rock are expressed by students. He says they encourage students to see different viewpoints, and the students have rights guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression.
“I wish people could write their own messages on there, so they can say what they want to say and get their actual opinion out,” said Jared Williams, a 2019 grad. “But I like that it’s one simple ‘black lives matter.’ I like that.”
Staff was planning Thursday to paint it ahead of graduation on Tuesday. They changed their minds after seeing the painting. Potter says it will stay until Monday.
“If our staff and students feel this is the way the rock should stay for graduation, this is the way the rock will stay for graduation,” said Potter. “This is a student decision, nobody else’s.”