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Vandalism in North Hall further divides schools

Pro-Gainesville High graffiti is found at Mount Vernon Elementary

POSTED: September 24, 2008 5:01 a.m.

The Gainesville-North Hall football rivalry took an ugly turn this week.

Spray-painted graffiti was discovered Friday morning at an elementary school near North Hall High School, three days after similar vandalism was found at Gainesville High and on the same day the schools' football teams faced off at The Brickyard at North Hall.

Hall County Sheriff's Col. Jeff Strickland said someone used red spray paint on a garbage Dumpster, some portable classrooms and a sign at Mount Vernon Elementary. A school resource officer was investigating, Strickland said.

Patti Graham, whose 8-year-old daughter attends the school, said the graffiti said "GHS" and "Go Big Red" and included a profanity. The school's principal parked her car in front of the profane graffiti to block it from the students' view, Graham said.

By mid-morning on Friday, the graffiti had been painted over.

"The thing that's disturbing about this is it's at an elementary school," Graham said. "If it were at the high school, at least it would be on the same level. These are just babies going to this school, and they don't need to be subjected to this. That's what disgusts me."

Gordon Higgins, a spokesman for the Hall County school system, said the biggest expense would be some restoration work to a brick and marble sign that was dedicated to retired Mount Vernon Principal Dwayne Colston last year.

Gainesville High School Principal Chris Mance expressed disappointment.

"That's not the message we want to send our students, nor is it the message we want to send the community," Mance said. "I worry we're getting into a position where it becomes terribly unhealthy to play."

Mance said vandals struck the practice field area of his campus on Wednesday, tearing down poster board signs and spray-painting the nearby Gainesville High spirit rock with profanities and references to North Hall.

The principal said he spoke to his students on Thursday by public address system and warned them not to retaliate.

"I told them not to stoop to that level and let the scoreboard have the final say," Mance said. "Unfortunately, we had some student that did not heed that warning, and if they're caught, they need to face the music."

Mance said he spoke by phone with Mount Vernon Principal Connie Daniels on Friday morning and expressed his regrets. He sent his school's maintenance workers to help with the cleanup, and an offer was extended to help pay for the cost of the vandalism.

Mance said North Hall's principal placed a similar call to him after the vandalism at Gainesville earlier this week.

Mance said in his eight years at the school, he's seen the rivalry between the two schools intensify, "and kids make incredibly stupid decisions every year."

"This is the first time I've seen it trickle down to the elementary school," Mance said.

In an unrelated incident, officials are investigating a theft that happened in the visitors' side of the field house at Flowery Branch High School sometime after halftime Friday night's football game between Chestatee and Flowery Branch high schools. Items belonging to the Chestatee team were taken, according to Hall County Sheriff's Col. Jeff Strickland. He said the Flowery Branch school resource officer is investigating the incident.

 

 

 



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