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Jaguar mural loss sparks sadness on campus

Over+200+South+Mountain+High+School+staff+and+students+participated+in+the+creation+of+the+Jaguar+Mural%2C+that+was+painted+over+during+the+M+Building+repairs.
Over 200 South Mountain High School staff and students participated in the creation of the Jaguar Mural, that was painted over during the M Building repairs.

Over 200 South Mountain High School staff and students participated in the creation of the Jaguar Mural, that was painted over during the M Building repairs.

Courtesy Debbie Kunes

Courtesy Debbie Kunes

Over 200 South Mountain High School staff and students participated in the creation of the Jaguar Mural, that was painted over during the M Building repairs.

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Students and staff at South Mountain High School were left sad and confused when the Jaguar Mural in the M Building by the World Language classes was suddenly removed.

Spanish teacher Debbie Kunes explained the origin of the mural.

“The mural was created in 2014 after students expressed the desire to create an environment that celebrated our campus and united all of us as Jaguars,” Kunes said. “It took several gatherings to select a design. Then we had to…gather donations of brushes and paint, get permission from administration, and schedule a time outside of instruction (to paint). Over 200 scholars and staff members collaborated in the creation of the community Jaguar Mural.”

Spanish teacher Angela Palacios was very emotional after discovering the painting was gone.

“Taking down the mural was devastating!” she said. “It was surreal; I feel like I am missing a piece of my heart. I walk by where the jag was, (and) it’s like pouring salt (on) an open wound.”

“It was very upsetting,” said Kunes. “Because I still haven’t been able to understand why this happened.”

South Mountain’s principal, Brian Guliford, explained why the painting was removed.

“There was a series of repairs that needed to occur in the… World Language area,” he said. “Not just on that space where the mural was, but a few others in that area of the M Building. So, in that effort to repair the wall, the mural was painted over inadvertently.”

“Supposedly, they were fixing holes,” Palacios said. “Even so, there were options…to fix the holes and salvage our jag mural.”

Guliford expressed sympathy for the students and staff who had an emotional connection to the jaguar. He wants to assure them that the issue will be resolved.

“I felt like if our students have some emotion, then certainly we need to be respectful and embrace that and loop back to those very same students to reassure them that the mural will be repainted onto the wall,” he said. Guliford wants everyone to know he takes accountability for the removal of the mural.

“I will be the first person to take responsibility for the incident,” he said. “It’s tough to replace the sentimental value and the energy that went into creating (the mural) in the first place, but we’re going to make an aggressive effort to make sure the mural gets put back on the wall.”

“For four years, it greeted all of us every time we entered the M Building,” said Kunes. “The blank space reminds me daily of the people who I respect, admire, and no longer see.”

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Jaguar mural loss sparks sadness on campus