Malvern high school students fight to preserve ‘yearbook wall’
The “yearbook wall” at Malvern Collegiate Institute has been a longstanding tradition for grade 11 and 12 drama students, dating back to the 1980s.
Students say the wall, located in a dressing room in the drama department, gives them a safe place to express themselves.
Grade 12 student Sebastian Scoular-Stajic called the wall a legacy, and told Global News, “Whenever we finish a play or a docudrama in grade 11 and 12, we write our name and sign a quote of that play and docudrama on the wall.”
But educators say the wall has become “inappropriate” over the years, with profanity and the names of child sex offenders included in some of the messaging.
A couple of weeks ago, students arrived at school to find the room locked. Teachers told them their beloved wall would soon be painted over.
That sparked outrage, even among students who had already graduated. A petition has been started, garnering over 1,100 signatures so far.
Virginia Mullen, another grade 12 drama student says the wall “shows our success and dedication and hard work that we’ve put into the plays that we’ve written, just performed.
“No matter what social group you’re a part of, you can come in there and feel accepted.”
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) defended the decision to repaint the wall.
“Due to offensive and inappropriate words written on the wall, the decision has been made — in consultation with students and staff — to capture it all in high resolution photos and recreate it with the offensive remarks removed. The original wall will then be repainted,” the TDSB told Global News.
A school board spokesperson said the plan is to create a new space in the school with a wall that all students can write on, appropriately.
Drama students are still unhappy with that decision and plan to continue their fight.
“I don’t know why they can’t just leave it as it is,” Scoular-Stajic said.
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