Sunnyslope High School’s freshmen made their way up S Mountain Oct. 17 for the annual refresh of the iconic “S” (photo by Julia Taggart).

An annual tradition continued at Sunnyslope High School on Oct. 17 as some 700 students made their way to Sunnyslope (S) Mountain.

Every year, Sunnyslope’s freshmen climb the local landmark to give the 150-foot “S” on the side of the mountain a fresh coat of white paint. This year, the entire freshman class was joined by Sunnyslope weight training, Fire Science and Sports Medicine students, varsity football players, more than a dozen staff members, Sunnyslope community members and members of the Phoenix Fire Department.

Located just northwest of Central Avenue and Hatcher Road, S Mountain is part of the Phoenix Mountains. Sunnyslope’s Student Council first assembled the rocks in 1954. The students, who relied on walkie-talkies and binoculars to guide their work, spent a day marking out the outlines of the “S” and another hauling five-gallon buckets of whitewash up the steep slope to paint the ground inside the rock outline.

Those students created a long-lasting legacy that has since appeared in ad campaigns, magazines, postcards and more. In 2011, the mountain was listed on the Phoenix Historic Properties Register. It can still be seen from South Mountain, 27 miles away.

A student helps refresh the paint on S Mountain (photo courtesy of Glendale Union High School District).


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