Educators would never encourage students to deface a public building for the sake of artistic expression. But leaders at Apex High School did just that. For good reason.
This summer, they are bidding farewell to their 1970s-era hodgepodge building to make way for a new school. To help ease the heartbreak of the goodbye, school leaders invited students to cover the walls with grand art displays.
On Sunday, hundreds of students, alumni and community members came to Apex High to view the murals and learn more about plans for the new school. For many, it was their last chance to walk the halls of a school that shaped their teenage years.
Kiersten Subin Violette shook her head as she stood in the courtyard, remembering like it was yesterday sitting there with friends. Violette, who graduated in 2004, said she nearly cried when she learned on Facebook that the school would be demolished.
“So many memories here,” she said. “So much happens in high school.”
School leaders knew the demolition would sadden students and alumni, so they have been working to ease that. The murals allowed students to leave their mark, albeit temporarily.
The project exceeded expectations, Apex High Principal Diann Kearney said, perhaps in a bad way. The murals turned out so beautifully that students and staff are sad to know they will be reduced to heaps of concrete and brick in a few months.
“It will be a good idea gone bad when the wrecking ball comes through,” Kearney said.
On Sunday, a group of students from the high school band touched up their mural as visitors chuckled at their design. A stream of music notes stretched across a brick wall with this message: “We’ll be Bach.”
So many memories here. So much happens in high school.
Kiersten Subin Violette, class of 2004
Caitlin McCarthy, a rising senior, worked on the design with fellow band members nearly every day after school in the past week.
“I can’t believe we’ll have to tear this down after all this work,” McCarthy said.
While the murals may have been beautiful enough to merit preservation, Apex High is not a prize architecturally.
The main building was constructed in the 1970s. The next two decades brought two more additions. Since then, three pods to add extra teaching space and eight mobile classrooms are scattered across the campus. The new design brings all classrooms into a single building that circles an open courtyard.
The project, expected to be completed by 2019, will cost $70.6 million. Students will relocate to Green Level High School in the meantime.
While students like McCarthy say they dread the move, it will have some benefits.
“It will be nice to go to school without roaches,” she said.
Locke: 919-829-8927 or @MandyLockeNews