In 1965, two years after what is now R.A. Brown Middle School opened, the north wall of the still-new gymnasium was adorned with an artistic image of a prowling panther balancing over the slogan, “Be better tomorrow than you are today.”by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Brown Middle School seventh-grader Grace Strid created this colorful mural for the gymnasium wall.

The mural, created by Jane Begg and Serge Coval, was dated June 10, 1965. Their names, still quite legible just under one of the panther’s front paws, will forever be linked to that artwork.

And now, there’s a new panther on the prowl.

On May 10, Brown Middle School — which opened as East Hillsboro Junior High School in 1963 — celebrated its 50th birthday, and part of the celebration was the unveiling of a new wall mural.

This one pictures a leaner, leaping panther above a new, retooled slogan: “Building futures since 1963.”

Grace Strid, a seventh-grade student at Brown, submitted the winning artwork, which is now just a few feet to the left of the mural from 1965.

“It was a student art contest,” explained Principal Don Brown. “Teachers picked the winning design. We had a lot of excellent art from students. It was a tough call.”

Brown said there were about 30 entries in all.

Strid admitted she was surprised when she learned she’d won the HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Brown Middle School art teacher Autumn Quas (left) celebrates with her student, Grace Strid, after Strids contest-winning panther mural was unveiled at the school on Friday.

“The other work was really good,” she said.

Her art teacher at Brown, Autumn Quas, said she was very proud of Strid.

“It’s fantastic,” said Quas, who teaches a mixed class of seventh- and eighth-graders. “She does really well at drawing.”

Strid said she felt a great sense of responsibility — and a bit of shyness — knowing her painting will be on the gymnasium wall for years, and perhaps decades, to come.

“A lot of people I don’t even know are coming up to me and saying ‘Congratulations.’ It feels good, but I’m scared, too, because people are going to see it,” she said.

Nevertheless, the recognition is a nice boost for a girl who hopes to pursue a career in art.

“I want to be a manga artist,” Strid said. “That’s an Asian version of graphic novel anime.”

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