Photo courtesy Highline High School Pirate’s Anchor student newspaper.

Due to previous cases of vandalism – including recent hate speech that was painted over immediately – Highline High School’s ‘Spirit Rock’ will be removed by the end of next week, high school student journalists said in a story released on Thursday, Mar. 14.

Officials say it is still unclear what the future of the rock – which apparently was a gift from the Class of 2002 – will be, but this will be decided at a later date after alumni input.

Within the past week, the rock was painted with hateful messages – twice.

“We believe this was the work of individuals outside the school community,” the district said in a statement.

As we previously reported March 6, when the rock was defaced for the first time this year, students held an after school meeting with Co-Principals Mr. Holloway and Mr. Sallee, and this meeting played a role in the rock’s removal.

“It is apparent that our principals not only listened to the students who attended the meeting, but took action on behalf of the student body,” the students wrote.

Another student at the high school told The B-Town Blog that not only has hate speech been painted on the rock at least three times in the last two years, but has also been previously seen around other areas on campus, with racial slurs carved into desks, as well as this graffiti from 2017, which was removed:

“Last week spirit rock was once again painted with hateful, offensive messages,” Superintendent Susan Enfield said. “While we do not know who was responsible for this, we do know that whenever something like this happens it angers us all, and rightfully so. It also undermines the hard work that you and the staff at Highline are doing to create a culture of respect and inclusion. After speaking with your principals and our school board members, we together have made the decision to remove spirit rock next week because as leaders and members of this community, we believe we owe it to you to take action.”

“We recognize that spirit rock was a class gift to the school, and we will consult alumni for their ideas about its future,” Enfield added. “I also encourage you to contact me with your ideas. While the rock may hold good memories for some, it is not the positive symbol it once was.”

Student journalists added:

“This will mark the end of the vandalism of an object that is supposed to bring us together, but will this also put an end to the ignorant hate speech at Highline?”

Here’s Enfield’s full statement, as read schoolwide during first period Thursday morning:

Dear Highline High School Students,

Nearly two years ago when we first had issues with spirit rock I met with many of you to hear how it affected you and what you thought we needed to do better moving forward. One of the things you told me was that during difficult times you want to hear from me directly. So I have written this message for you and asked your teachers and school leaders to share it.

Last week spirit rock was once again painted with hateful, offensive messages. While we do not know who was responsible for this, we do know that whenever something like this happens it angers us all, and rightfully so. It also undermines the hard work that you and the staff at Highline are doing to create a culture of respect and inclusion. After speaking with your principals and our school board members, we together have made the decision to remove spirit rock next week because as leaders and members of this community, we believe we owe it to you to take action.

We recognize that spirit rock was a class gift to the school, and we will consult alumni for their ideas about its future. I also encourage you to contact me with your ideas. While the rock may hold good memories for some, it is not the positive symbol it once was.

We are proud of you, we support you and we want you, today’s students, to be the face of Highline High School. Together, let’s demonstrate to our community that in Highline we believe love and respect is more powerful than hate and ignorance.

Susan