Rock. Paint. Senior. Shoot.

Photo taken by Tyler Barlow

Photo taken by Tyler Barlow

•Senior parking.

•Permission to leave for lunch early.

•Permission to show up late and leave early (if schedule permits).

•A rock?

Each year, Head-of-School, David Mahler, gives graduating seniors a gift that will become part of their legacy on campus. This year, Mr. Mahler gave the seniors the gift of a rock.

Now many people think, why a rock? But this is no rock. The rock, later dubbed “Dwayne” by current seniors, is a miniature boulder, and it is beautiful. The base of the boulder is concrete and the rock is coral and river rock. The boulder comes from an Schoeder/Manatee quarry from around the area–a gift yielded from the massive building boom around Lakewood Ranch.

The hole was made by quarry workers drilling into the rock to place dynamite to bring the massive boulder to the surface of the water.

Dan Dennehey, ODA’s Director of Facilities, was tasked with finding the perfect rock for the seniors. He chose Dwayne because of the “O” left by the dynamite drilling. The rock then had to be transported to campus. SMR brought the rock to campus, initially placing it behind the student center.

“It’s not as heavy as you might expect,” says Dennehey. The coral and river rock is not as heavy as other kinds of rock.

The senior grade not only gets the rock, they also get the privilege of being the first to decorate it however they want. This tradition of painting a big rock on campus comes from colleges. Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois has a rock at the center of campus that has been painted innumerable times since it became an icon of student life in the 1940s.

This tradition of ODA’s rock, Dwayne, will be passed down to seniors for years to come. Each senior class will get the opportunity to decorate it in their own way.

Over the next many years, the rock will accumulate many layers, a way to represent each senior class.

The 2017 class will always be remembered as the senior grade who started the tradition.