The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Legacy of the Senior Murals

The 2019 Senior Mural, Photo courtesy Jada Merritt
Jada Merritt
The 2019 Senior Mural, Photo courtesy Jada Merritt

The once popular Senior Murals that had been created every year and displayed throughout the school were put to a halt in 2019 after an ongoing debate between seniors and the administration.

In the early 2000s the tradition of creating a class Senior Mural was instituted and appreciated by every grade that got to tell their story before graduation. The murals were commonly hung in the MIHS commons and viewed by hundreds of students a day.

Throughout the years following the creation of the murals, there were incidents involving inappropriate jokes, personal attacks, sexist language, and racist comments.

It was common knowledge that any class of kids would try to sneak jokes and comments into their piece, they just weren’t always as hidden as presumed. The hurtful and potentially offensive jokes sparked the debate of whether or not the tradition was positive for MIHS.

“I would love it if they didn’t have to be taken down because I think the senior murals are a great tradition,” history teacher Dino Annest said. “But I also see that some people, and I know people here, were hurt by things that were included in the murals. Inside jokes, little subtle things that are a symbol, but they hurt people, so I totally understand why they were taken down.”

The long reign of senior murals officially ended after the class of 2019 made their own, but were told to stop working and encouraged not to present it. The seniors at that time felt deprived of a tradition that they expected to take part in when they started freshman year and many were unhappy with the change. The students who had already started their mural had not felt that the piece was malicious or represented anything negative about their class whereas some staff members here at MIHS strongly disagreed.

“All I know is that they were very clear cases that had items on the murals that were very embarrassing to people or hurtful,” Annest said. “It just made people angry or upset; why have that on the wall?”

The mural had to undergo some kind of approval and revision by the staff and administration here. During the revision process the seniors were advised to remove the jokes that the school had felt were not appropriate but unfortunately most had already been painted.

“In the Rose Bowl section, there was one image that said ‘rose bud’. For some people, that is a type of marijuana,” said Associate Principal Foster.

After being told to revise many of the jokes that had already been included, the seniors felt lost and transitioned the piece to a personal project that would not be associated with the school. The mural had included many of the redacted jokes and was not advised to be hung on school grounds.

As previously reported in the Islander, “If it is going to hang on our walls, we can approve or deny it. It has nothing to do with artistic integrity,” Interim Principal Nick Wold said.

It was recognized that presenting it in the school may not be a good idea and some students did brainstorm other places for the mural to go. The mural team got together and collectively decided that this project would not be receiving review and decided to keep this plan a secret from the administration. However, despite the risk of confiscation, a student displayed the project in the commons on June 10 after the Senior Assembly.

According to the Islander, “Mr. Wold saw the mural and was furious,” Senior Teddy Fischer said. “Although it was an act of rebellion to display the mural, I believe displaying it was the right decision.”

After the incident with the 2019 senior mural, all future students were denied the tradition and previous murals were taken down. Despite the messy and dramatic display of the 2019 mural, many of the students valued the process of making the last Senior mural to ever be made at MIHS. The only other class of students who experienced the murals graduated last year, leaving current students with little knowledge on the tradition.


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About the Contributor
Julia Weisfield
Julia Weisfield, A&E Editor
Julia Weisfield (she/her) is a sophomore at MIHS and is the Arts and Entertainment Editor. Outside of school hours, she enjoys reading, skiing and traveling to new places. Julia is a 2nd year member of the MIHS Drill team and the MIHS Islander.

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  • K

    KMar 3, 2023 at 1:12 pm

    Interesting topic, this offered a really unique perspective on the senior murals. Nice job, Julia!