Students come together to repaint Ardrey Kell HS Rock after it was vandalized

George Floyd message defaced on school's spirit rock

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Ardrey Kell High School students gathered Monday to repaint the school rock that was vandalized over the weekend.

The rock highlighted the Black Lives Matter movement and had names of people who died at the hands of police.

The investigation continues. No word on who was responsible for the vandalism but Ardrey Kell High School Principal David Switzer wants action.

“I want to find you,” Switzer said. “I want to punish you to the fullest extent of the law. I want to make sure that you are held accountable for the actions and also I am going to say - I am going to pray for you. I want you to understand that there are a lot of people that will not let hate win.”

Switzer said he was angry when he saw the destruction. This is not the first racial incident that has happened at Ardrey Kell down through the years.

There have been other cases involving a student using the "N" word to describe African American students. There was also a time at a football game where an African American student was targeted with offensive language and the school rock was vandalized again to highlight the immigration issue.

Switzer believes it will take education to erase racism ranging from training to cultural competency. We asked Switzer does Ardrey Kell HS have a problem.

“The problem is systematic,” Switzer said. “...If I think I couldn’t make a difference here I wouldn’t work here.”

Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board Chairperson Elyse Dashew says there is a problem when students don’t feel welcomed at their school. She says she had that type of conversation with an Ardrey Kell HS student at the rock repainting event.

“I heard a student say that she doesn’t feel welcomed,” Dashew said. “There were moments she didn’t feel welcomed here and that hurts my heart. I believe that to be the case at this school and at all of our schools and we need to address it.”

Dashew is now giving the superintendent an assignment to deal with this matter and to determine if the district is doing enough.

“I am asking the superintendent to give us an update on all of the initiatives that we have in the works,” Dashew said. “Whether it’s regarding our teacher pipeline, whether it’s student discipline, whether it’s school culture, academics - so that we can review what is in the works - see where we need to double down, where we have gaps - where we need to refocus.”

CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston agrees and says he is ready to have some hard conversations to make things better for all students.

“We will not tolerate systemic racism,” CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said. “Structural inequalities and bigotry toward African Americans in particular and to all members of our community.”

While CMS figures out what more needs to be done, students are encouraged by the many people who showed up to the event to help repaint the rock. Student leader Kayden Hunt says this shows the school can come together in difficult times.

“Look what you did,” Ardrey Kell HS student Kayden Hunt said. “You really tried to break us down, but look at us - we will stay fighting. We will stay doing what we can 'cause we are strong.”

CMS Police is investigating this incident.

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