Old school walls hold a piece of Scott's heart

Vernon’s Scott Fochler is running into red tape in his effort to get this piece of graffiti he drew on the walls of the old Vernon Secondary School in 1981. Fochler would like to give the piece to Doreen, his high school sweetheart who became his wife, for their 29th wedding anniversary. - Photo Submitted
Vernon’s Scott Fochler is running into red tape in his effort to get this piece of graffiti he drew on the walls of the old Vernon Secondary School in 1981. Fochler would like to give the piece to Doreen, his high school sweetheart who became his wife, for their 29th wedding anniversary.
— image credit: Photo Submitted

UPDATED THURSDAY, FEB. 21, 9 10 A.M.: Scott Fochler has his heart back, thanks to an "anonymous benefactor."

See Friday's Morning Star for details...


Scott Fochler wants his heart ripped out before the demolition begins.

Well, ideally, the Vernon man would like his heart cut out. Intact.

Fochler’s heart, in this case, is a piece of heart-shaped graffiti he wrote in November 1981 on the wall in the drama department green room at the old Vernon Secondary School.

Fochler proclaimed his love for his high school sweetheart, Doreen Markson, in red spray paint: “Scott + Doreen” enclosed in a heart.

“We met once in Grade 10 but we got to know each other in Grade 11, which was 1980-81, and we started going out in the spring of 1981,” said Fochler. “I wrote that after we had broken up and got back together. You’re in plays and stuff and we were in the drama department, so I wrote it on the green room wall.”

Fochler was surprised to find his artwork still up on the wall when he and Doreen attended a VSS Class of 1982 30-year reunion in the summer of 2012, an event that included a tour of the old school.

It was classmate-turned-VSS teacher Mike Sawka who suggested to Fochler that he try and retrieve his piece of art.

“I thought they’re just going to throw it away anyhow, it would be a nice romantic gesture to cut it out, get it framed and give it to my wife for our 29th anniversary this year,” said Fochler. “Us guys can always use extra points when we can get them.”

Unfortunately for Fochler, his effort to retrieve his red stage makeup art has been tangled in red tape.

A four-week e-mail and phone campaign to various members of the Vernon School District has resulted in Fochler being denied his request.

He even enlisted the help of Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster’s office, who got the same answer Fochler did from the school district: Sorry. We’d like to help but the answer is no.

“I was told it was contractual obligations with the school district and that they couldn’t salvage anything out of there,” said Fochler, whose kids have started a “Heart of VSS” campaign via e-mail and on Facebook to try and help their father get back his sentimental art piece.

Vernon School District superintendent Bev Rundell said she’s aware of Fochler’s request, and said the school board has been inundated with requests from people for memorabilia.

Rundell said the school board has a contract in place with the general contractor who contracted with another company for the salvage rights to the interior of the school.

“When they signed the contract, I don’t think anybody thought they’d have 300 people wandering around trying to salvage and scavenge in the school,” said Rundell.

The salvage company did allow some bricks and some wood to be saved and those were offered to the public during an open house in November, as well as on the VSS website.

“It is the salvage company’s right now to do that work,” said Rundell. “For us to go back and say ‘we want this, we want that,’ we can’t do that.”

There is also the issue of safety and liability. Rundell said even she hasn’t been in the old building since they started the demolition inside.

“I don’t think WorkSafeBC would allow the general public to walk through a salvage rescue demolition site,” she said. “That’s the other piece for the companies and the school district, the liability around that. And also the time. To take valuable time away from our school and students to do that is probably something we wouldn’t think is a priority for us.”

An idea for a one-day salvage rescue open to the public, who would have to sign waivers, is likely not going to happen, said Rundell, as no such thing was part of the contract signed.

Work on tearing down the inside of the old school has been underway for awhile now. One school district official estimated it could be about “three or four weeks” until the walls will start to come down.

Rundell is sympathetic to Fochler’s plight.

“It’s a nice romantic idea and it’s great that people have got strong feelings for VSS, but we do have contractual obligations, and part of the contract didn’t include people coming into the school looking for this and that.”

Fochler’s anniversary is May 19 and, originally, the quest to get his heart back was supposed to be a surprise for Doreen.

“She’s well aware of it now,” laughed Fochler. “I’m hoping it’s still up on the wall and I’m hoping I can still get it.”


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