Mural center of elementary school debate

June 16, 2010 7:36:32 AM PDT
A debate is brewing over a mural at an elementary school in the Humble Independent School District. A 14-year-old mural is being replaced even after parents at the school signed a protest petition to keep it up. The mural is in the hallway of Willow Creek Elementary off of Willow Terrace. Graduating seniors from Kingwood High School come back to Willow Creek for a reception. Middle schoolers on the last day even wore "Save the Mural" shirts.

"The beautiful Mona Lisa, there's cardinals in the trees because we are the Willow Creek Cardinals," parent Stephanie Mize said. "There's the printing press from 1639."

The floor-to-ceiling mural inside Willow Creek Elementary also read "Protect Our Earth" and "Spirit of St. Louis."

Two kids underneath the tree think of all the technological breakthroughs our country created and dream of what's next.

"It was a mural that's artistically and educationally so rich," Mize said.

The mural, which was up for 14 years, is now gone.

Mize is a volunteer parent at Willow Creek Elementary and an artist. But, when new school Principal Debbie Roesler approached her to paint over the respected school hall mural, she declined, and offered ways to incorporate new murals with this older one.

"I said, 'You know if you want the new murals to flow with the existing artwork, we can definitely do that,'" Mize said.

To show first-year principal Roesler how much the mural meant to Willow Creek families, she quickly gathered 170 signatures on a petition, requesting its preservation.

But Roesler found another artist to paint over it. Construction of a new mural has already begun.

"Many people are shocked and dismayed that the mural is gone and sad," Mize said.

Principal Roesler says she wants new murals painted throughout the school.

Now a tight-knit elementary that relies heavily on volunteerism is fractured.

"There's a lot of damage there. There's people that are sad and don't want to return back and volunteer and help out," said Gina Remmes, president of Humble ISD's Council of PTAs. "We need to have some healing time, and she needs to help us with that healing."

While parents and students prepare to move forward, they still question why an inherent piece of the school's history was lost.

"I still wonder why a valuable piece of art was lost, as do many members of the community," Mize said.

On Tuesday, Humble ISD said no one was available for an on camera interview but released this statement:

"We believe Mrs. Roesler has appropriately recognized and honored the importance of the mural to the Willow Creek community. She has gone out of her way to have it photographed, framed and will prominently display it in the hallway of the school so that it may be treasured and appreciated for years to come."


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