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Principal apologizes for painting over school mural

Students, parents upset about former Bryant art


by: SUBMITTED  - Betsy Reid, who was an artist-in-residence at Bryant, poses by the mural she created for the school gym in 2010.Parents are upset about a decision the Lakeridge Junior High School principal made: painting over a Bryant Elementary School mural.

The $4,800, Parent Teacher Association-funded, monthlong project in 2010 involved the student body and many school employees and parents, former Artist-in-Residence Betsy Reid said. Reid led the project, using staff and students’ handprints in acrylic paint to bring to life two trees, two small children, grass and flowers on a 325-square-foot plywood surface. The word “Bryant,” in rainbow colors, rose above the scenery. Reid mounted the mural on a wall in the school gym in an N-shape around a basketball hoop.

Reid’s daughter attended Bryant and now is a Lakeridge Junior High eighth-grader.

“I knew pretty much all of the staff members,” Reid said. “I knew a lot of the kids. I volunteered my time (at Bryant). To say (the mural) was a labor of love is an understatement. The fact that I can’t recover it is really frustrating and disappointing.”

The mural was painted over during the summer, and Reid heard about what happened from her daughter. Word spread, and a parent of a former Bryant student wrote to the superintendent and the school board.by: SUBMITTED - Former Bryant Elementary School students Owen Culver and Reese Ericson work on the mural in 2010.

“The first week of school is usually a happy and exciting time for students and parents alike,” Tamara DiVergilio said in her Sept. 7 email. “However, for former Bryant families this week we are sad and honestly angry. Early this week a few 8th grade girls who are former Bryant students were in the gym on the Bryant campus for a leadership program, and to their shock and dismay the huge mural that used to be on one side of the gym that their very hands created had been painted over!”

Bryant was shuttered in June 2012 because of school district budget cuts, and sixth-graders moved from elementary school to junior high, which previously had seventh- and eighth-graders only. Lake Oswego School District officials repurposed Bryant as a home for sixth-graders attending Lakeridge Junior High, which is right next door.

Lake Oswego School District administrators asked Lakeridge Junior High Principal Kurt Schultz, who took on his role in July 2012, to make the Bryant building more Lakeridge Junior High-oriented.

Superintendent Bill Korach said Schultz is new and was trying to execute the job with which he had been tasked.

“He was not thinking about the history of the Bryant facility with a gymnasium that is now being utilized by the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in Lakeridge Junior High,” Korach said.by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge Junior High School Principal Kurt Schultz formally apologized for painting over the Bryant mural.

Schultz said he chose to paint the mural blue in keeping with Lakeridge Junior High School colors after speaking with sixth-graders who wondered why their gym said “Bryant.” He added that he also consulted staff members about how to address the issue. He has overseen improvements to his school, adding fresh paint and a new logo to the gym in Lakeridge Junior High, a different location than the gym in the former Bryant building.

He issued a letter of apology and said last week that he feels very badly and had the best intentions to do right by his school.

“In retrospect, as I’ve learned more about the mural, I would make the decision differently,” Schultz said. “It’s one of those mistakes I will learn from. …I’m hoping to move forward in a positive way.”

Schultz plans to meet with Reid to discuss the painted-over mural.

Many people wrote Schultz to share their views, including Lakeridge Junior High seventh-grader Sky Clark.

“Me and my former Bryant school friends, and parents are upset that the Bryant Mural was painted over," Sky wrote in an email. "The whole school made that with each individual handprint. (300 students). We made the mural because we knew the school was closing.”

Sky said the mural should have been removed from the wall and stored.

Patti Zebrowski, board chairwoman, said it is a shame what happened to the mural yet Schultz is a good man who wanted to make Lakeridge Junior High “better for the sixth-graders, make them feel more like part of the junior high school.”

School board member Bob Barman said he understands the sensitivity of historical art at Bryant, Palisades and Uplands elementary schools, all recently shuttered. His children attended Palisades.

Barman said it was an honest oversight, and it cannot be undone, but “we can make sure it won’t happen again.”



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