INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Painting a large rock on school campuses is a tradition many hold and recognize. Now the tradition has made its way to Independence Primary School breathing life into a big rock that's called the school grounds home for five decades.
The president of the school's PTO, Amanda Jaronowski, was the brains behind the idea about three years ago.
"I said to our principal, I have this amazing idea," she said. "I want to take this rock and I want to adopt it and everybody's going to rent it, and he looked at me and he's like 'You are.. you are crazy. Why would I want to rent a rock? Why would I want to do that?'" And I was like it's going to be big. It's gonna be huge."
And Jaronowski was right. Her 'Rent the Rock' program is seeing big success.
"We sold out in like two days," she said. "People were really excited about who got to go first, signing up for birthdays. I knew people would like it and understand."
For $5 families of IPS can rent the rock and paint it to whatever they choose. "It's been a llama, a rainbow, a pumpkin, I mean so many different things," said Jaronowski.
The rock even has its own Instagram account so families within the Independence community can see how it's being decorated.
Parents of students said this program is giving them something to rally around outside of the classroom.
"I think it builds confidence because they get to share it with their friends, their friends are excited about it," said Jessie Anthony "Everybody's talking in the hallways, about who's turn is it going to be. What are you going to do when it's your turn to paint the rock?"
"I think it really brings fun school spirit. Everyone gets really excited about what the rock is going to say," said Alexandra Rodgers. "We're always very appreciative of when there's something fun, exciting and new."
Jaronowski, who's giving up her role as President of the PTO at the end of this school year, said this is about more than just painting a rock. It's about building community and giving families something to smile about.
"There's so many division in our community, in our country, in our world over the pandemic. Masks, no masks, vaccines, no vaccines. And for these little kids it's so much conflict," she said. "And nobody doesn't not smile when they look at this silly rock. It makes everyone smile and there's a way that transcends all of the division that we're experiencing right now. It's just really satisfying and just really exciting to do."