Hockley remembered with art

  • Written by Don Mann
Some current and former WHS students pitch in to paint a tribute mural in Prudence Hockley’s honor on the public wall at Rotary Community Park. Photo by Don Mann.
It’s probably covered over with graffiti scrawl by now, but for a couple days last week the public wall at Rotary Community Park was graced with a tribute mural to murdered Woodinville High School teacher Prudence Hockley.

It was the collective brainchild of former WHS students Rae Grainger and Anna Berlin, who had never met until they joined forces via a Hockley Facebook tribute page and hatched the idea for the mural in the skate park.

“As an artist if you’re met with tragedy,” said Grainger, a design student, “you turn it into a way of expressing yourself. And Ms.  Hockley was an advocate for that.”

So Grainger came up with a design for the wall befitting the New Zealand native: a Kiwi bird, Maori flowers with a mountainous backdrop and the words “Gone but never forgotten. Beloved friend, teacher and mother.”

Berlin got the word out to the Woodinville community and about two dozen current and former students turned out on Monday, Jan. 2 to pitch in with the painting process.

As it happened, the fresh paint was washed away by steady rain that night.

Undeterred, a dozen kids returned the next day to create it again, symbolic of the perseverance Hockley valued and taught to her students.

Berlin said the mural was a perfect way to celebrate Hockley’s life.

“She would have loved that we’re working through tough times by expressing ourselves in a positive way through art,” she said.

And then Berlin spoke about Hockley from a personal level.

“I remember first meeting her and thinking about how cool I thought she was. I definitely idolized her. She was so unique and embraced everything that was different about people.”

Berlin said Hockley was one of the smartest women she knew, strong physically and emotionally.

“As someone who struggled in high school for being ‘different’ Hockley helped me grow as a person and learned to love myself for exactly who I am.”

As a teacher, Berlin added, Hockley was tough. “She was an expert on everything we studied. She engrained every book, poem or article we read in class. She pushed us to think outside the box and pushed us to be our best. She saw potential in everyone and wanted all of her students to succeed.”

Grainger never had Hockley as a teacher, but knew her from the hallways and was drawn in.

“She was always energetic and outgoing and had a quirky personality,”  she said. “She loved piercings and tattoos and had crazy hair. We shared a love of combat boots. We were just kindred spirits. She was really non-judgmental and embraced different looks and I loved that about her.”

Former student Danika Troupe, now the diving coach for the WHS swim team, was so moved she reached out to share a special memory that lives on in her life: “Ms. Hockley was such a wonderful and inspirational teacher,” she said. “Not only did she teach us students to write with meaning, she inspired us to LIVE. Every weekend at the end of class, she would lovingly chastise us with a reminder to ‘Eat whole grains!’ Now being a coach I frequently give my athletes the same reminder and think of her zest for life each time. A life with purpose, ‘spectacular vernacular,’ exercise and a healthy portion of fiber is something she inspired in all of us and I am so thankful I got to be a part of her class, and she a part of my life.”

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