When Sheree Gomez-Clark received an early morning text message that someone had vandalized Fishback Stadium, she took action.
The Washougal High School assistant principal used social media and e-mail to let staff, students and community members know that someone had painted foul language on a mural designed by a former student. She encouraged them to come out to a volunteer work party that afternoon to clean up the damage.
“Myself, Assistant Principal Carol Boyden and Athletic Director Doug Cox determined that this was a good opportunity for students to show their Panther pride and take a stand against hate,” she said.
Despite only having a few hours notice, more than 30 students, staff and community members showed up Sunday afternoon to help out. In-between placing coats of paint on the mural, they also repainted some of the seats and Panther paw prints around the stadium.
“It was a great opportunity to see our kids respond the way that they did,” Gomez-Clark said. “They turned a bad action into a good deed.”
Brenda Hitchens, culinary arts teacher, is new to the district and the city of Washougal. Formerly a Las Vegas resident, she was used to calling a hotline to report graffiti.
“I just couldn’t believe it happened,” she said. “It is such a quiet little town, but with growth those things will happen. But, on the positive side, it was a great learning experience for the kids because they made the stadium look even better.”
Junior Emilee Smart was sad when she first heard about the graffiti.
“I play basketball and support all of our sports, and it upset me to think someone would put so much work into messing it up,” she said. “But it is cool that so many students spent their Sunday afternoon to help make the school better.”
Senior Dylan Momakov was the first student to arrive at the work party.
“At first I was shocked and disappointed, so I wanted to get as many people as possible to help,” he said.
Momakov posted the work party information on Twitter to encourage others to participate.
“I was really happy to see everyone come together,” he said. “It really brought our school community together.”