Superintendent reassures student about moving up block tradition

SILVER CREEK — Ellen Decker, who is moving up from eighth grade to start her Silver Creek High School career as a freshman in September, came to a recent school board meeting seeking clarification about the fate of the long-standing tradition of “moving-up day blocks,” where students moving from fifth to sixth grade secure their respective place in elementary school history by painting on individual bricks, or “blocks” of the interior school walls.

“There’s been rumors that they would be painted over,” Decker said. “But a Dunkirk OBSERVER article has said they’re not supposed to be painted over.”

Superintendent Todd Crandall reassured Decker that while the tradition is continuing, “to some degree, we’re running out of block space. So, this year’s present fifth graders, rather than painting their block on the wall, they painted it in a classroom. We’re going to display that and hang it in the hallway from next year until the year they graduate, six years from now. And when they graduate they’ll be able to take that tile, that was the block-tile, they’ll be able to take that with them when they graduate. It will travel with them. So we aren’t going to run out of space because eventually the tiles will be taken out.”

Crandall said that the school has taken photos of every block that’s displayed in the elementary building, “so it’s catelogued. In theory, if someone ever wants to buy one of those, at least a picture of it for posterity’s sake, they could do that.

“We’re kind of getting the best of both worlds. We’re preserving what we have and we’re going to continue on with the tradition by having students paint their tiles, which will be displayed and after they graduate, they’ll take that tile with them and have it with them for the rest of their lives.”

Ellen’s mother, Janet Decker, asked Crandall what would happen to the tiles of students who move out of the area before they graduate.

“They could take it with them if they’d like to,” Crandall responded, adding the caveat, “I don’t want to make that rule right now.”

Silver Creek Director of Pupil Personnel Services Scott Rudnicki elucidated further by saying that “the only times the tiles have been inadvertently painted over is when there’s been a construction or capital project and it was unavoidable at the time in doing a repair that way. The first year since 2011, they’ve been captured digitally. We can display them on the website and try and identify whose they are in moving forward. Not all of the tiles have lasted the test of time so we’re trying to take that into consideration as well.”