Outrage following repainting of junior alcove


Juniors (left to right) Jack Calabrese, Khalil Davidson, Ryan York, Carlos Shields, and Grace Renner sit in the newly painted alcove for lunch. (Photo by Sarah Lambert)

Sarah Lambert, Managing Editor

For years, students getting off the bus would walk up the steps to the back door of Mason and immediately see a vibrant red alcove to their right, packed with juniors squeezing between each other to get in some conversation before the first block. For many, sitting in the junior alcove cemented the transition from underclassman to upperclassman – it’s a rite of passage.

Juniors have made this space their own, often leaving something behind for classes to come. The Class of ‘21, the last class at Mason to finish Junior year in the old school, felt the same way. Many students decided to write their names or “2021” in Sharpie on one of the bright red walls. 

While most students stuck to their names, other students took it a little farther, writing their name in big letters and including obnoxious nicknames. However, teachers and administration didn’t complain, so most students thought little of the issue.

Problems arose at the beginning of the second week of school when vulgar, rude, or even homophobic comments showed up on the walls, sometimes connected to someone’s name. Several students noticed these comments and tried to cover them up, but the next day, even more, profanity appeared. Still, the issue was not addressed by the administration or staff.

The next day, juniors walked in through the backdoor of the school to find the alcove empty, painted black, and with a “wet paint” sign barring them from the corner. Many juniors were outraged, blaming the administration for not telling them in advance, and on other students for defacing the walls.

Several Juniors sit in the bright red alcove.
Previous Juniors, (left to right) Victoria Lecce, Agnes Jagerskog, Rachel Doornbosch, Connor Plaks, Corwin Miller, Henry Brorsen, Henry Wildman, Natali Majano, Fiona Howard, and Alex Dunie sit adorned in red, matching the once vibrant alcove. (Photo by Sarah Lambert)

“Surprising us by going in after school when none of us are here is stooping to the level of the people that wrote the rude comments in the first place,” junior Pauline Bonner said. “Most of us didn’t write the bad stuff; they should have painted over that, not our name. It’s not our fault that some people decided to write profanity, and I doubt those people were even juniors. They should be the ones in trouble, not us.”

Junior Becky Rasmussen felt that the school should have at least addressed the issue with the junior class prior to painting over it. “If they want to regulate what we can write on there, they could’ve given us standards. But going and painting it over after school is cowardice and avoidant.”

Many students thought the whole “feud” was unnecessary and a waste of time and money. “It was a waste of school expenditure when our school is practically falling down,” junior Marco Ferrara said.

The administration was quick to point out that this was all just a misunderstanding.

“The work order we called in was literally just to paint over the vulgar language in red, and then I came in the next day and smelled the paint and I had seen that they had painted the entire alcove black,” Principle Matt Hills said.

Principal Hills doesn’t want to have the juniors thinking that they blame them for the profanity – they are currently investigating the security footage and have security checking by the area every so often to try and catch the actual perpetrators. 

“Now that the whole alcove is black, this could be a really good opportunity to make something cool. Just make sure you run it by me and I’ll pay for any materials that you need,” Principal Hills stated.

Principal Hills wants this to be a student-led activity because he knows how important the alcoves are to the Junior Class, especially because the school will soon be torn down. He just needs a teacher to supervise the activity. 

We are all going to miss this school: students and teachers, upperclassmen and underclassmen, as decrepit as it may be. We all want to make the most of the school while it’s still standing, whether it be its alcoves or its ceiling tiles. Instead of arguing amongst each other, we should all work towards a common goal and create something we’re proud of.

If you are interested in putting forward your ideas for the new design of the junior alcove, feel free to submit your ideas via the form below (all students and teachers are welcome):

Junior Alcove Design Ideas