LAGUNA, N.M. (KRQE) – Recent graduates of Laguna Acoma High School are upset after their school painted over part of their senior class mural. The mural had a special meaning for the class.
One of the artists who designed the mural said nobody was informed that the school was painting over a portion of their design. He said it was the most important part, and it completely changed the meaning of the mural.
Before graduating, the Laguna Acoma class of 2019 wanted to leave their mark on their high school. The students spent their final year coming up with a design — something that would not only commemorate their time at the school but would also memorialize one of their friends.
They decided to paint his name in the bottom left corner of the mural. “What a better way for us to remember our senior year than by honoring him? Because he was supposed to be there with us,” said Haylee Johnson, a 2019 graduate.
Jovon Solomon was shot and killed in April 2018 in Las Cruces. Investigators later determined the shooting was an act of self-defense, but his classmates said they knew a different Jovon, and they didn’t want him to be remembered for his mistakes.
“Jovon was a happy spirit. Jovon was somebody who was never selfish. He always wanted to make people laugh, make them feel at home, make them feel welcome,” said Johnson.
The students and the artist said before they began painting, the design was approved by the principal. But now, three months after the mural was hung on the gymnasium, Jovon’s name has been painted over.
“It made me feel mad, really angry, and disrespected,” said Benjamin Oso, a member of the 2019 graduating class.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the school district to find out why they chose to modify the mural. They told us they were unaware of the issue and were too busy to find out why the school chose to change it.
The artist said the principal told them the school was getting complaints about Jovon’s name being on the painting.
The artists are planning to fill in the white space. They said it may look complete, but it doesn’t mean as much as it did before.
One of the artists said that he paid for all of the supplies for the mural out of his own pocket, with the promise of being reimbursed. He said he still has not seen any of that money.
Jovon’s mom said she suggested putting her son’s name back in the mural, but maybe not so big. She said the district did not respond to her suggestion.