Students and faculty alike at Edward Little, walking into the first day of school, were welcomed by faceless, white walls.

The paintings located on the wall near the automotive shop, the Civil Rights painting in front of room 212, the wall in front of the guidance office and the first floor of the new wing were painted over, along with the rest of the building, during the summer months.

“The school department’s budget is on a 10- or 12-year painting cycle with each Auburn School, ” explained Principal James Miller III, “but I made the decision to paint over the murals” because otherwise it would have been too “difficult” for the four painters to go around each and every detail in the murals.

Senior Joanna Cogan, 17, who helped paint the mural on the first floor of the new wing during finals week sophomore year, disagrees with Miller, saying “the murals were boxed shape, they could’ve simply gone around them.”

Ken Bastien from the Auburn School Department confirms that “four Auburn School Department bus drivers were hired on an hourly basis to paint the walls of the school over the course of four months.” Repeated attempts to reach William Hunter, director of transportation and maintenance for the Auburn School Department, for comment were unsuccessful.

Many have questioned how Miller and others concerned with the project had the audacity not to, at the least, inform the student body about the summer project.

Cogan says she found it “inconsiderate of the administration to not even let the students who worked on the project know,” adding “Apparently [they] believe that our original work can be easily replicated and that it wasn’t worth much time to us in the first place.”

Emily Bilodeau, English teacher at Edward Little, said she was stunned walking to her classroom. “I literally dropped what I was holding,” Bilodeau said with shock still surfacing in her voice. “We [Civil Rights Team] would have at least appreciated the opportunity to work with the painters to preserve the artwork.”

Still, head custodian Ray Lemieux saidt the paint job needed to happen despite what popular opinion may have been. “There was graffiti all over each painting..,” Lemieux noted. “They were coming apart. It had to be done.”

Eighteen-year-old Amy Churchill, who worked on the same painting as Cogan, doesn’t buy it. Churchill, like many others, approached Miller about the whiting out of the EL walls. She says that, for the most part, “it was evident that he didn’t care to have us in his office. To him, it was cut and dry – the walls needed to be painted and we painted over them.” Continuing on, Churchill says “he told me that the building is on a … rotation for being painted, but it’s strange how the new wing of the building is only six years old.” Apparently, she says, the rules are inconsistent.

Ann Breau, school library technician and an artist herself, says she understands the disappointment students are feeling about their work being eradicated from school walls.

“As an artist, I appreciate a work of art,” she says, but now the artless walls “change the characteristic of the entire building.”

For the Civil Rights Team, the outcome of work done over the summer proved to be personal. Chrissy Ames, co-president of the team, says there were several individually made posters hung around the school, which the bus drivers took down and seemingly disposed of.

“They were taken down apparently by the painters and put in teacher’s rooms,” Ames says, “but none of the teachers have claimed to having them… we had trust in the painters.”

Miller says any group that would like to re-paint the murals is more than welcome to do so.

Churchill remarked, “I had too much fun not to do it again.”


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