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Snitch back at Ashland High, larger than ever

ASHLAND — With a bigger Golden Snitch painted over Harry Potter's pelvis, a controversial panel of the senior mural at Ashland High School was hung back up on the quad Friday evening.

"The new Snitch looks very awkward because it's not that big (in the Harry Potter books)," said senior Emily Warnke-Crary. "But it shows who Ashland students are, that they put up a protest about it."

The mural, painted by seniors Colette Paré-Miller, Djamika Smith, Sage Trail and Alex Levine, is a Harry Potter sendup of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam," with Potter as Adam and Professor Dumbledore as God. Over Potter's privates the students painted a baseball-sized Golden Snitch, a magic ball with wings that is the size of a walnut in the popular series.

Principal Jeff Schlecht had the nearly nude panel of Potter taken down the day the mural was hung, April 11, citing school policies over excessive bareness. Hundreds of students protested on Siskiyou Boulevard two weeks later, and several conferences were held between the artists and administration.

Schlecht said in an e-mail to the Mail Tribune Friday the students showed him the changes they made to the panel that morning.

"I believe the artists and I worked respectfully to reach a compromise," Schlecht wrote.

"Our deliberations were courteous, focusing on understanding and moving forward. These seniors have a lot of academic pressure and are very busy; I am grateful they would continue to meet with me."

The new snitch is about the size of a soccer ball.

"It's good it's back up," said freshman Molly Harney. "It's a senior mural and shows school spirit. It shouldn't have been taken down."

Freshman Kayla Reynolds noted that students have seen the original "Creation of Adam" in class.

"It's an amazing painting. Though we didn't get our way, it shows we were determined to get it back up," she said.

Protests raised issues of students' right to free expression vs. community standards and the administration's responsibility not to offend any students or their parents. News of the protest reached the National Coalition Against Censorship in New York City, which penned a strong letter to Schlecht.

The artists could not be reached for comment late Friday.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.