Political Messages Keep Popping Up at CMS High School

Students at Ardrey Kell arrived this morning to find a divisive message on the spirit rock at the front of the campus.

CHARLOTTE, NC —  Usually it’s birthdays, upcoming events or support for the school teams. But the spirit rock at Ardrey Kell High School in Ballantyne was adorned with a different type of message today; a political message that is causing some controversy. And this isn’t the first time.

Students at Ardrey Kell arrived this morning to find this on the spirit rock at the front of the campus: a message supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, advocating building walls.

A student, senior Parker Hall, is claiming he painted the rock.

“I think the rock should be used for the students to congratulate each other, or to promote maybe something school related,” says Ballantyne resident Kelly Webb. “But it is not the right platform for a political statement.”

Many CMS schools have a spirit rock just like the one at Ardrey Kell. Right now it is advertising an event for Saturday. But this is fresh paint. Earlier today it had a political message in support of Donald Trump. And that’s not the first time this rock has been used that way.

The rock was re-painted Thursday afternoon, before an open house for incoming ninth graders. But this is the fifth time that rock has been painted with a Trump slogan this year.

It’s especially troubling in a school district that is trying to build diversity through a controversial student assignment plan, and it’s creating a division within the predominately white Ballantyne school.

Education consultant Jessica Miller says incidents like this could have a negative educational impact on minority students.

“We need our schools to be inclusive and welcoming environments for everybody, right?” says Miller. “Because what we know about learning and the brain is that in order to learn you need to feel safe and secure.”

WCCB Charlotte called Ardrey Kell principal David Switzer to find out what he plans to do to keep this from happening again. He has yet to respond.