The Murals of CHS: A Brief History

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The dragon mural on the 2nd floor.

The walls of Community High School are dotted with murals. More than thirty of them add color to halls that would otherwise be composed of drab bricks and bland white paint. Steve Coron, head of the art department at Community, called the murals “A visual record of our history.” And every mural in the building has a story behind it.

Mike Mouradian, a retired film teacher from CHS, knows many of those stories. For example, the mural of feet outside the third floor computer lab: “This used to be the counseling office,” Mouradian said. “These feet are like the students waiting in the hall for the counselor.” He went on to tell the stories of some other murals in the building; “Fear and Loathing” on the third floor was inspired by a book of the same title. The “bull’s-eye” mural, located near the dance body room, is one of the two oldest murals in the building, and the zebra mural outside the main office inspired Community’s mascot.

The zebra who ultimately became Community's mascot.

Mouradian recalled that there used to be even more murals in the building. But in the school year of 1991-1992, the Community High building underwent a major renovation. As doors and walls were added and removed, many of the murals were destroyed.

“[The staff and students] were given a choice,” Mouradian said. “We could either stay here and have construction going on around us for three years, or we could move for one year.” The staff opted to move, and so for one year the students of Community attended classes at Stone High School. According to Mouradian, the Community High building was badly in need of repair. “There was literally one outlet in my classroom,” he said. “And sometimes windows would just fall out.” During the renovation, the building was outfitted with more modern equipment. The staircases at the back of the school were also added at this time, attached to the original building with metal bars.

A few years after the renovation, Mouradian said, more murals had to be removed when the building was tested for lead paint. When lead was found under some of the murals, they had to be destroyed so the toxic paint could be taken care of properly. “There was a lot of controversy over this mural,” Mouradian said, indicating the orange dragon near the second floor ledge. “In the end, they decided to let it stay.”

The dragon mural on the 2nd floor is a popular place to hang posters.

But the lead paint under the dragon mural is a big problem for the school. Coron said, “If you’re going to take [the lead paint] out, then you have to get everyone out of here and get rid of it safely.” Coron went on to say, “The Dean has talked to me about what we’re going to do to save [the dragon] mural. We could paint in [flaking] areas, kind of feather them in.

But [we] don’t want to interrupt the lead paint underneath.”

Above all, Coron and Mouradian both hope that students will appreciate the murals and try to take care of them. Coron said, “I would want our students to respect the murals as a very special part of our school, and as someone else’s artwork.”