Local News

Anti-Trump painting causes tension at Roanoke Rapids High School

Posted December 19, 2016
Updated December 20, 2016

— A student's attempt to express her thoughts about the presidential election has caused controversy at Roanoke Rapids High School.

A female student's paining of President-elect Donald Trump with horns, x's for eyes and a reference to the KKK is not sitting well with some parents at the school.

"It's all over social media, pictures of it are everywhere," a senior at the school said.

The senior said students at the school are also talking about it.

"They have the right to express their own opinions, but other people have different opinions," the student said. "It might create controversy within the school and it's not the best time to create controversy for no reason."

Hope Elias, another student at Roanoke Rapids, said every student has a right to express themselves. "I feel like even though we're in school, it's still protected under the First Amendment, so freedom of speech. I feel like it's the student's right to voice their opinions."

The piece of artwork was only on display at the school for the duration of an art show.

School officials said there was not a problem until a photo of the painting, along with the other artwork, was posted on Facebook.

"We respect the rights of all of our students to have their opinions, to be creative. That's pretty clearly stated in the First Amendment," said Dr. Dain Butler, superintendent of the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District.

But Butler said there was growing tension online.

"Due to the accusational comments on Facebook, due to the divide on Facebook, we felt like it could spill over into some disruption at our school, so the decision was made to pull that post," he said.

Students said Monday that there had not been any problems at school, and that their parents seemed to be more concerned about the issues than they were.


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  • Allen Hack Dec 21, 2016
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    Would it be OK for a picture of Obama in blackface and a monkey tail? Of course not, so why did the teacher allow this? It is a double standard. Shame on the school for allowing this.

  • Mary Smith Dec 20, 2016
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    Just wondering Bernard, which schools are teaching filth and disrespect? My children are in public school and this is not part of their standards. Perhaps intolerant, zealous parents are teaching their children these subjects rather than public schools.

  • Linda Tally Dec 20, 2016
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    This time, I think it's WRAL who made the mistake. From reading the report, and talking to some of the teachers, it seems that the anti-Trump painting did NOT cause tension at the high school. Might have done it on this reaction board, but that hardly counts.

  • Bernard Grace Dec 20, 2016
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    If a child painted a picture of Jesus that would not be okay, and if they had painted a picture critical of Obama or Hillary it would have been removed. Do not sit behind your double standard and think everything is okay: elements of the left. We have to come to grips that public schools indoctrinate filth and disrespect. if you vote YES for any school bond you are just encouraging these elements. Take away their dollars with your votes. If you have an average to above average child who is good, they are going to learn no matter what and be employable. Let's not feed the monkey.

  • Bryan Jeffries Dec 20, 2016
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    "But a kid wearing a red "America First" baseball hat is sent home....."

    Citation needed

  • Marianne Tioran Dec 20, 2016
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    obviously, these people think HATE speech is ok....

    people need to learn some morals....they are not taught respect for others at home, so they bring their contempt to school with them

    teachers are bad by allowing this

  • Anna Temple Dec 20, 2016
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    Can we please just switch from education to indoctrination and be done with it all?

  • Ken Ackerman Dec 20, 2016
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    This is High School where people are supposed to be learning about the real world. I'd say that at least one student has expressed an opinion. Which is her right.

  • Mary Smith Dec 19, 2016
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    Just out of curiosity Ed, when was a student sent home for wearing a Trump hat? If any student was sent home, it would be for refusing to remove a hat...which is actually being sent home for beligerance and insubordination. Every school I've ever been to has a no hat policy clearly outlined in the dress code.

  • Fred Holt Dec 19, 2016
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    Not surprised that the first comment confuses speech (like thie painting) and threats - like what the Secret Service investigates. Simple Minds: not just an 80's band