Burnsville students paint positive message after hateful words appear outside school

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After hateful words appeared outside Burnsville High School, a student decided to spread a different message.

Last week, hateful, racist messages were plastered on the school’s parking lot. The school’s spirit rock, which is often decorated by winning teams or a graduating class was painted with the president’s name and several profanities. 

School officials say they didn’t find out about the vandalism until last Tuesday and as soon as they did, the messages were painted over.

A week later, principal Dave Helke sent a letter to parents, saying in part, “[hateful messages] have no place at Burnsville High School, where we know our diversity is a strength for our community and where we are committed to ensuring all students know they are welcome and safe.”

But simply erasing the words, wouldn’t erase the problem, says Meg Larson, a Burnsville High School senior.

“The school didn’t address it,” said Larson. “They just covered it up and I was really disappointed in that because I thought our school would be better than that.”

That’s why Larson spent her weekend replacing the hate with love.

“I just thought, why not, I like painting,” said Larson.

With a few cans of paint, she and her friends went at it. Instead of the n-word, they wrote “Diversity is what makes us great” along with simple, positive images.

“We didn’t want to put a cap on certain groups who believe this or believe that,” she said. “We didn’t want to put any political or social messages that would be taken a different way and make it into a fight.”

Burnsville school officials say they are still investigating the incident and as of Wednesday, no students had been disciplined.

As for Larson, she just hopes the new artwork adorning the spirit rock sends a message of love to her classmates of color.

“I hope they feel represented,” she said. “I hope they think Burnsville is trying to change because I don’t see a change in the administration and I want that to happen.”