Michigan school replaces Heroes mural of Einstein and Mother Teresa with Oprah and Obama

The dictionary defines a “hero” or “heroine” as “A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”

South Arbor Charter Academy is a free public charter school serving kindergarten through 8th grade in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

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Todd Starnes reports for Fox News, Nov. 13, 2014, that for years, boys and girls at South Arbor Charter Academy have been inspired by Heroes Hall – a corridor featuring murals that honored a diverse group of national and global heroes – including Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and the astronauts who were killed when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas.

But many parents are furious after the principal had the murals replaced with paintings of Barack Obama, Oprah, Maya Angelou, Walt Disney, and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

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Parent Craig Bergman said, “This is no longer a hall of heroes. Now we have a hall of celebrities.” Bergman said the school’s new mural really transforms the concept of what makes a person a hero: “The mere fact that you have talent doesn’t mean you are a hero. I want someone who made a life investment – perhaps they even sacrificed their life – so that our society and so our world could be a better place.”

Parent Todd Holliday said the new mural sends the wrong message to children in the K-8 school: “My biggest concern is my kid seeing these murals for the next four years – thinking they represent what a hero is. They might be successful business people but they aren’t really heroes.”

School spokesperson Jennifer Hoff said it was part of an intentional shift from “historical heroes” to “modern-day heroes” – “Heroes Hall has been a part of the school’s fabric for years. In fact, the old mural had been on the wall for at least 11 years. As with all things over time, it was showing its age from the activities of being an active school and needed some repair.”

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Hoff said the new Heroes Hall is a “tangible way for students to see that despite circumstances in life, you can achieve great things through hard work, dedication, and the moral focus virtues” – virtues that emphasize “wisdom, respect, gratitude, self-control, perseverance, courage, encouragement, compassion and integrity.”

And the new heroes, she insists, embody those virtues: Rowling shows the children wisdom, Steve Jobs shows the children integrity, Oprah represents compassion, Disney represents courage, and Maya Angelou shows the children perseverance. As for Obama – well he shows the children encouragement because “Our goal all along is to encourage our students to believe in themselves, work hard and be brave enough to dream.”

Bergman said the principal appointed a blue-ribbon panel of four staffers to select who the new heroes should be: “There was no parental involvement. The principal of the school hand-picked and self-appointed (the group). Once they gave her their final decisions, she solely approved the list. Previously, it was very well-balanced and respected a lot of different thoughts. Instead, it’s become more of a political issue. There’s definitely a certain genre of pictures here.” Bergman says the celebrities who replaced the old heroes “may be some of the most influential people in American history, but they are not heroes.”

Kim Bondy, principal

Kim Bondy, principal

The principal of South Arbor Charter Academy is Kim Bondy.

  • Address: 8200 Carpenter Rd, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
  • Phone: 734-528-2821
  • Fax: 734-528-2829

~Eowyn

Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds.

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