For the past seven years its the changing colors of aboulder planted outside of T.C. Williams High School that has marked the end ofsummer, not the leaves.
On a bright and warm August afternoon devoid of humidity,seniors Caroline Kee, 17, and Justice Jones, 16, began putting the finishingtouches on a school tradition under the watchful gaze of graphic communicationsteacher Bob Trout.
Each year a couple of senior art students get together withthe class leadership and repaint the stone in their own image, Trout said.
Though Kee and Jones have put plenty of effort intodesigning the images plastered on each of the boulders five exposed sides along with their classmates Connor Sullivan, Caroline Van Zoren, Beth Robsonand Anna Skubel, all 17 its a bittersweet reminder the school year begins onSeptember 7.
Its not super fun to be back, Kee said, paintbrush inhand. Its a little depressing. But were doing this for school pride.
For Trout, who graduated from T.C. Williams in 1977 and thenspent the last 30 years teaching at the high school, there are few things moreimportant than school spirit. He began the rock-painting tradition to encourageschool pride just as he established a pep band for the schools basketballteam.
They enjoy the tradition, but its tough to know who is havingmore fun, the students or the teacher.
Every year I say Im not going to do it, but I just lovethis school, he said. Im such a titan. This makes me feel 18 again, eventhough Im 51.