Be it irony or coincidence, two properties belonging to the
Gilroy Unified School District were targeted in the same 24-hour
period by graffiti vandals Friday. Unknown taggers
wrote profanity on them, defaced some of them by adding male
genitalia, gay slurs – which is really sad. Our kids worked really
hard on them,
said CHS Principal John Perales, who maintains the assailants
are unknown at this time.
Be it irony or coincidence, two properties belonging to the Gilroy Unified School District were targeted in the same 24-hour period by graffiti vandals Aug. 19.
Following suit of a long-standing tradition at Gilroy High School, the first-ever 12th-grade class of Christopher High School enlivened their senior parking spaces in bright, personalized murals during an Aug. 19 painting party.
Seniors shell out $40 for choice spots to decorate and reserve throughout the year. However 27 of those asphalt rectangles embellished in artwork were promptly ruined by something other than tire tracks.
Unknown taggers “wrote profanity on them, defaced some of them by adding male genitalia, gay slurs – which is really sad. Our kids worked really hard on them,” said CHS Principal John Perales, who maintains the taggers are unknown at this time.
Some CHS seniors who’ve caught wind of incriminating Facebook comments left by GHS students suspect their rivals to the south left a smoking gun.
Senior Nic Slater joked payback will come through a football victory when CHS Cougars and GHS Mustangs meet face to face in the appropriate arena for spirited rivalry.
Along with several of his classmates, Slater agrees spaces belonging to CHS athletes and leadership students were targeted specifically.
On Wednesday, GHS Principal Marco Sanchez said he had heard very little of the incident, adding “there has been no formal investigation to draw any conclusion.”
He quickly underlined GHS administration “condemns” any sort of vandalism or destruction of private or public property.
Perales reminded CHS students not to accuse anyone without proof, and to not retaliate.
“For all we know, this could have come from our own students,” he said, adding “this is not the first or last rivalry issue we will deal with.”
CHS seniors Marizza Lucio, Sydney Felix and Belinda Allen estimate students logged six to seven hours of decorating, on top of paying $70 to $80 in art supplies per spot.
“It’s a tradition we really want to build and grow,” said Perales, who has notified the police and is investigating the situation. “These kids go out of their ways to do something special, but unfortunately a few people took it upon themselves to deface that.”
The principal says he plans to file an official report with the GPD soon.
Parents and staff turned out Sunday afternoon with brushes and paint donated by Orchard Supply Hardware to conceal a splattering of offensive language. About 95 percent of the graffiti was covered by Wednesday afternoon, with several spaces still blemished by fat streaks of black paint obscuring inappropriate jargon.
“I’m really sad. It upset me significantly,” Perales said.
He points out rivalry and competition is great – as long as it doesn’t involve offensive slurs or the defacement of property.
Christopher’s message for the offenders?
“Ruin it 100 times, and we’ll repaint it 101 times,” said Perales.
Lucio adds, “We got a laugh out of it, but it was still the wrong thing to do. I think we’re better people than that.”
In terms of making sure friendly rivalries don’t get out of hand, Perales says CHS will always have as many as 14 staff members patrolling home football games: one to three administrators, two campus supervisors, three teachers, four to five athletic booster club parents and the athletic director.
Concluding on a lighthearted note – and giving a nod to their school mascot – Perales added security will also include “several cougars from the surrounding hills.”
A second graffiti incident occurred three miles to the southeast during the same time period of the CHS parking lot tagging.
Four buses and one van were spray-painted around 8 p.m., Thursday at GUSD transportation services at 8067 Swanston Lane off Leavesley Avenue. Damages amount to $1,500, according to GPD Sgt. Chad Gallacinao, who said there are no leads or suspects in what he classifies as felony vandalism.
“So unless somebody comes forward and provides information regarding the case, the investigation will be suspended,” he said.
It’s the sour cherry on top for GUSD’s downsized busing department, which is trying to keep face amid $225,000 in budget reductions, the elimination of six bus routes and the dissolving of seven positions.
“It’s disappointing,” said GUSD Transportation Supervisor Annie Sharp.
Sharp couldn’t decipher any messages in the graffiti scribbles but thinks it may have been “gang tagging.” As for whether the bus lot has been targeted in the past, Sharp – who has been at her post for 18 months – isn’t aware of past incidents. She says this is the first tagging since the transportation department returned to its former site on Swanston Lane about a month ago.
The bus lot is surrounded by chain link fencing, but only some of the portions have barbed wire on top, she said. The bus lot is scheduled to have video cameras installed on its premises, though Sharp doesn’t know when.
“I don’t know what else we could do,” she said. “It’s just disheartening.”