Editor’s note: If you ever wondered what happened with the Shuksan Middle School mural that was taken down in 2009, here’s an update.
The Shuksan Middle School mural that parents and alumni saved from demolition nearly three years ago will live on at the school as three photos, but the original will go back to the artist who created it.
“It’s nice they’re going to bring it up to me instead of destroy it,” Donna Wheat said. “I just didn’t want them to take it to the dump.”
Wheat, the artist, said she hoped to be able to put the large mural upright on her 20-acre property in the Bellingham area and put a roof over the mural to keep the elements off of it.
The large photos will be framed and mounted above the doors leading into the gym at Shuksan in Bellingham. They will be nearly as large as the original mural, which celebrated diversity and was completed in 2003.
“Our vision for the mural is going to allow it to be part of our school for a long, long time. It’s going to be at the center of our gathering place,” said Shuksan Principal Jay Jordan of the photos and their placement.
Jordan said a display also will be created to tell the story of the mural.
The 10-foot-by-30-foot mural, which had been in the main lobby, was going to be torn down along with the rest of the old Shuksan Middle School building in August 2009 to make way for a new school.
But thanks to the efforts of a group of parents and alumni, the mural was instead cut out of the concrete wall it had been built into.
Made out of mosaic tile, the mural included a quote from President Jimmy Carter, blue beach glass, bits of mirror and clay pieces made by every student at Shuksan as well as pieces made by faculty and staff.
Parent volunteers also helped with the project.
Wheat said she had no idea that district officials planned to tear down the school at the time she was creating the mural. If she had known, she would have made it so it was moveable.
No date has yet been set for moving the mural from Shuksan to Wheat’s property.
Stephanie Twiford, a parent who had worked on the mural and helped save it, thanked Jordan for his effort when he took over as principal beginning in 2011.
“Jay thought this mural was amazing,” Twiford said. “I just appreciate Jay Jordan for recognizing that it was a valuable piece of history, a piece of Shuksan history.”