‘The Rock’ returns to Redmond High

Compared with so many senior class pranks that leave a hassle or mess for school staff, Redmond High School class of 2017’s senior “prank” was rather a thoughtful gesture.

The students, who describe themselves as caring about tradition, wanted to bring a special one back: the rock at Redmond High.

The 8,000-pound, roughly heart-shaped rock used to stand inside the high school commons area near the front entrance. But during the high school’s remodel that took place between the summer of 2012 and 2013, Redmond School District decided to take it out, according to Superintendent Mike McIntosh. Sentimentality and nostalgia were weighed against aesthetics and the idea of creating a fresh start. Ultimately, the latter won out, although no one harbored ill feelings toward the massive rock, McIntosh said.

For about the past four years, the rock lay in the high school’s football stadium, where students were only moderately aware of its existence. That is until Mario Nonato, 18, and a few of his fellow seniors, considered moving it back to Redmond High’s forefront — literally.

The plan was for seniors to move the rock and place metal letters on its front reading “Home of the Panthers” as a combination prank and class gift.

Mario and others figured they could move the rock with enough teen brute strength. If anyone could lift the thing it’d be Mario, who twice placed third at state in wrestling, and others leading the prank, including Bunker Parrish, 18, a 2017 state champion in wrestling.

But that was well before the seniors realized the rock’s weight. In the end, the school district helped with some of the heavy lifting via a forklift.

So on May 11, from 10 p.m. to midnight, a couple dozen seniors and some district staff made the big move happen. The school’s principal, Paul Nolan, was there for the move, which Mario and Bunker said was characteristic of the kind of administrator Nolan is.

“He’s really close with our class,” Bunker said.

Mario said he and others began sharing on social media encouraging others to come out that night. If not to help with the physical work, “to just be here in the moment,” Mario said.

In the beginning, moving the rock seemed like a fun and harmless prank — a way for the class of 2017 to leave a physical mark at the school. But eventually Mario and others began to realize the rock’s place as a monument and a fixture in the school’s history.

“Meet me at the rock” used to be a way of letting people know where to find each other between classes, and many a team and club photo was taken in front of the big boulder for yearbooks.

Redmond High’s former principal Hugh Hartman originally donated the 4-ton rock when the school was built in 1974, according to McIntosh. During the remodel about 40 years later, the decision was made not to place it inside again. But Friday, McIntosh said he’s glad the rock will be a feature of the school again.

“I think out here is actually a much better place for it,” he said, gazing at the front of the school.

Now, the rock is lying on the front steps of the high school’s entrance outside. But the class of 2017 is raising money to have Redmond’s 3 J’s Masonry install it permanently on a cement base out front.

Nolan set up a “Redmond High Return of the Rock!” page on the GoFundMe website to raise the $4,500 needed to build a base and drill into the rock to place it firmly near the school’s entrance.

The $4,500 will also pay for materials for high school welding students, including Mario, to make a metal panther to be mounted on top of the rock, and for letters to read “Home of the Panthers” and underneath that, “Class of 2017.” The original metal panther that used to sit atop the rock was vandalized years ago.

As of Friday afternoon, the senior class had raised just more than $1,400 since the GoFundMe page was created Thursday. That amount includes a $500 donation from the class of 2017.

Comments on the GoFundMe page show how near and dear the rock is to Redmond High alumni. Many donors shared their class year in a comment, and wrote messages about their support of the rock’s return to Redmond High.

For one donor and alumna who wrote on the GoFundMe page, putting the rock at the front of the school again is placing it “back where it belongs.”

By Kailey Fisicaro, The Bulletin, @kaileyfisicaro

541-383-0325, kfisicaro@bendbulletin.com