All three Rock Hill high schools vandalized over Thanksgiving break

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comDecember 2, 2013 

— Longstanding rivalries between Rock Hill’s high schools likely played a part in vandalism at all three schools over the Thanksgiving break, school officials say.

By Monday morning, evidence of graffiti and displays of possible raucous school spirit at Northwestern, Rock Hill and South Pointe had been washed away, and the search for the vandals had begun.

At about 4:45 p.m. Sunday, a Northwestern High administrator told police that someone had spray-painted the school’s Trojan statue near the entrance to the campus, according to a Rock Hill police report. A student told authorities that photos of the damage had been posted on social media websites.

The initials “SP” and “RH” had been painted on the statue, said Executive Officer Mark Bollinger, spokesman for the Rock Hill Police Department.

The vandals sprayed yellow paint over the lens of a surveillance camera that normally records the area of the statue, the report states.

Surveillance video did capture a masked person approaching the camera before coating it in paint, leading school officials to believe that students might be involved, said Elaine Baker, Rock Hill schools spokeswoman.

Police estimate $200 damage to the statue and $500 damage to the camera.

If police uncover evidence proving who did the damage, charges might be filed, Bollinger said.

Also over the weekend, someone placed rocks at the center of the baseball field at South Pointe High, arranging them in the shape of a “vulgar image,” Baker said, and one of the large rocks on the Rock Hill High campus was painted with “vulgar language.”

It’s not uncommon for students and administrators to find a piece of school property spray-painted with names and birthday shout-outs at any of the city’s three high schools, Baker said.

“The rock at Rock Hill High is spray-painted all the time,” she said. “That’s nothing unusual. It’s spray-painted by whoever. The access is very easy to the rock(s).

“A lot of times the rock at Rock Hill High will be sprayed purple and gold (Northwestern’s colors); red and silver (South Pointe’s colors). That’s not always the way it is, (but) it’s right there on the road. Take five steps and you’re right at it.”

Deputies often receive calls about people spray-painting the rocks, but typically it does not rise to the level of criminal activity, said Trent Faris, York County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

The Trojan statue at Northwestern “has also been spray-painted a number of times, as well,” Baker said. “This is not atypical during football season ...or the playoffs. Someone wins, somebody doesn’t.”

Northwestern will play Saturday in the Class 4A Division II state championship game after beating North Augusta on Friday. South Pointe lost to Northwestern’s upcoming opponent, Stratford, on Friday. Rock Hill lost in the first round of the playoffs.

“There’s always a rivalry between the three high schools,” Baker said.

While spray-painting a rival school’s property might seem harmless, she said, there is a cost – for the schools and for the culprits involved.

“It always requires somebody else to come in and clean up, and it’s an effort on the part of our facilities services center,” she said, taking their time away from cleaning classrooms to clean up “after some type of prank.”

“It’s just a misuse of resources and misuse of funds.”

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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