Graffiti connects to past


By Andjela Bursac

On Wednesday mornings I wake up before the crack of dawn, 5am sharp. I make my way to the blue line by 6am, all so I can get to school by 7am for Key Club meetings. When I get off the Addison bus in the mornings I walk down the “shortcut” next to the stadium, to the lunchroom. It’s about a 5-minute walk, and this morning happened to be 1 degree outside. I walked a little faster than usual, in an effort to escape the cold. Even while going faster than usual, I couldn’t help but notice some interesting graffiti on the brick of the school. I noticed a spray painted pair of eyes with the caption “who’s watching you” underneath.

Three things came across my mind when I first saw it. First, “That’s unusually creepy.” Then I turned around and checked my surroundings. No one was behind me, no one was in front of me. Second, I thought “Big Brother!” since we are currently reading 1984 in my AP Language class. And third, I thought to myself, “this school is over 100 years old, and there are generations of graffiti all over the place.” So I thought I’d look into it, and here we are. Imagine how many thousands of kids have passed through the halls of Lane since it was built.

Graffiti has been a thing for a while, taking its roots back to ancient Egyptian scripture written on walls. It’s also illegal in the city of Chicago. But what kind of kids do it anyway? And what is their purpose for spreading their messages, in such a public and permanent way? No matter how illegal and frowned upon graffiti might be, it is interesting nonetheless. And it’s present all over the school, inside and out. Inside the school, the bathrooms are overflowing with graffiti.
You can find inspirational quotes like “You’re perfect no matter what”, to lists of the “cutest boys in school”, to even alarming notes about suicide threats. And they always tend to build up. The girls’ bathrooms in Lane tend to even have almost forum-like chain messages to each other.

You can see replies, and smudges, and crossed out words. There are even elaborate drawings that look like they took more than one quick class trip to the bathroom to finish. A less expected place to find tons of graffiti is the school’s attic! It’s covered in tons and tons of names, graduation years, and phrases, dating all the way back to the ‘70s.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think Lane’s history is so cool. Finding messages from the past, of kids who walked the same halls you’re walking, decades earlier, is so intriguing! Attention to detail is key. Next time you’re sitting in a boring physics class, look down at your old wooden desk, and try to decipher the graffiti. Who exactly were Brenda and Mark “together forever” in a heart engraved into the desk? So what do you say? Lane Tech’s graffiti: is it a crime, punishable with fines, or mysterious snippets of the school’s history?