Graffiti Gone!

When you are little, it sometimes feels difficult to have a big voice. But when you share your thoughts and feelings about things that happen in your community, and that community shares those words in a bigger way, all of a sudden it seems like little voices do matter and become bigger as they make a difference. Thank you to Out to Lunch Catering for sharing the sentiments of the Grade 2 and 3 students from Seymour Elementary and for helping them learn the lesson that speaking out about something you feel strongly about is important. And has impact. (Thanks also for the delicious cookies shared when we came by to visit!)

What are we celebrating? Big news in our school community! The graffiti covering the beautiful mural on the wall at Out to Lunch Catering (located just a block and a half from our school) has been washed off! While some traces of the graffiti can still be noticed up close, the mural we love can be seen again. And . . . a little “sign” leans up against one corner of the wall. On this wooden display hang our blog posts (read here and here to catch up on this story) featuring student thoughts and writing about the spray paint that covered this very wall in graffiti just over a month ago. The blog posts covered in plastic to protect them from the rain seem to stand guard in front of this newly clean wall.

Students were thrilled to see their work! Excited voices shared wonder at how great the mural looked again and pride at having our classroom’s voices shared. Students carefully examined the mural and chattered to each other about how fantastic it looked.

After the excitement toned down, we talked about what we noticed, what we felt and why we thought OTL Catering had shared our words. Many students agreed that they felt happy, excited and relieved that the mural could be saved. Some felt proud to have their thoughts displayed. One child commented,”If people see what we wrote, they will know that kids are upset and sad and they might care more to not make any more graffiti. People don’t like to make kids sad.” Many said that we helped the wall be more powerful.

One little guy whispered to me earnestly, “I know who did that graffiti. It was the bad guys.” We were happy to join forces with the “good guys” who cleaned the wall to take a stand against graffiti.

Below are some pretty happy “anti-graffiti” superheroes!

Back in class we decided to write about this subject one more time. We had a big discussion about possible titles for our reaction. “Let’s call it Graffiti x 0 because now there is no graffiti!” “We should call it Graffiti All Gone.” “I’m going to call mine Graffiti Keep Away!

Ava shared, “My title is Graffiti Wipeout because the graffiti has been wiped off and this makes we feel awesome! I hope our writing protects the wall.”

The children had lots to share. What came through loud and clear was how much joy they felt that the mural was back to the way it should be! Kelvin writes “I saw the graffiti had no paint on the mural anymore. We put up a sign. We are glad that the graffiti is off. We put up a sign to protect it from bad guys who wanted to paint it.”

Our words offering protection against future graffiti was a big theme.

Yes, this story got its happy ending in the form of a cleaned up mural. But beyond this, we learned that we can be part of the stories that surround us. That is definitely a lesson worth learning.

Graffiti . . . again?

Our morning began with a surprise and it was not a happy one. I brought the students out to see what I saw when I walked to school this morning. A community mural has been further vandalized.

Seriously? More graffiti? This is beyond not okay. By 9:15 a.m. our class was standing outside on the sidewalk a block from our school looking at MORE graffiti on the beautiful mural at Out to Lunch Catering.

Last week we went to look at the graffiti and wrote about our feelings and sadness. (Read that post here) Imagine how upset we were to see more graffiti on the wall today. The mural is almost unrecognizable. Gracie expresses what many of us felt in her writing today:

Many kids were asking why someone would spray paint over art? Why wouldn’t they spray paint on a blank wall? Even though that would still be disrespectful . . . It was the graffiti on a mural that really hit us hard.

We came back to school and wrote. Kids were keen to express their feelings and outrage. The usual “how do you spell . . . ?”  requests were less. Everyone wanted to get their thoughts down. Violet shared: “They used spray paint again. Don’t draw over it. Because it was beautiful the way it was. I don’t like it.”

Kala was really angry and her writing shows it. She wrote this completely independently: “I don’t like it. That hurt my feelings. Please don’t do it again. How will you think if we did that to you? You are dumb. Why did I say that? Because it was mean.”

I heard from Out to Lunch that beginning today, there will be an attempt to clean up the graffiti. A solvent will be used to strip the spray paint from the mural. But there are no guarantees that the mural won’t be smudged. We are crossing all of our little fingers that it works and that nothing is damaged.

Those same fingers attached to the hands we were wringing today at the disrespectful few who decided it was okay to deface a beautiful community mural. To the graffiti “painters” our message is this (quoting from another student’s writing):  “You are so not cool.


A favourite part of my day is walking to work. A favourite part of that walk is when I am a block away from my school and I walk between two huge murals. Beautiful pieces that celebrate our school, neighbourhood and community. Today I was devastated to see that one mural (on the side of Out to Lunch Catering) was covered in graffiti. Waves of white spray paint and large figures like this (below) covered what is usually a gorgeous, lush Vancouver scene.

Since this is my “borrowed community” in the sense of where I work, not where I live, I decided to make sure those who lived in this community were aware. I brought my class out to look at it in the afternoon. It is literally a half block from the school. We walk by it on the way to skating. Many children walk by it on their way to and from school. We are a school that just got a mural we are very proud of. This matters to us. So education for us today was in our classroom. For a little part of the day, our classroom was the sidewalk.

There were many questions. That’s what kids do best! Why did they do that? How will it get off? Will the police come? Did the owners of the building cry? Are they mad? Can it be fixed? Why did “those people” want to be mean? Some students were pretty passionate about it and instantly thought about how upset our mural artist would have felt if this happened to the mural at our school. Some kids were equally fascinated by the rocks that lined the building. Which was another great on the spot lesson on being respectful to space, including outdoor space that wasn’t ours and that was meant for all to enjoy. Teachable moments are everywhere! And students provide them if you can’t find any!!

We then had a discussion abut how students felt looking at it. Many shared: frustrated, sad, mad, aggressive (when I asked about this one, the child elaborated that it made him want to yell at the people who had painted on the mural) and disappointed.

We spent a few more minutes talking about how graffiti typically gets off buildings. More children shared their outrage and confusion and we walked back to school and wrote for ten minutes. Most children chose to include what they saw and how it made them feel. A few simple sentences to convey how they were thinking and feeling and making sense of this. Many drew a picture at the top and then scribbled over it. Like graffiti, scribbles over art.

One little guy wrote that his heart broke into pieces when he saw it. Kind of how I felt. A yucky feeling. Kids just call it – this was not nice, a mean act.

This writing below says: They spray paint on the mural and I am mad and they heart my feelings. Hurt is spelled heart. It is all kind of intertwined.

We are fortunate to go to school in an area surrounded by beautiful murals. Today we talked about how it feels when our art got scribbled on. Not good.