Murals replace traditional finals for MAP seniors

December 10, 2018 — by Kaylene Morrison and Emilie Zhou

Every few years, the school’s atmosphere gets a little brighter as new student-made murals are added the walls of various hallways. A new wall was most recently decorated at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, when seniors in the Media Arts Program painted murals for their English final. The murals portray major concepts students learn through the year.

According to MAP history teacher Mike Davey, who started the tradition, the murals help to alleviate some of the stress for seniors after they take AP exams while also “making the school more interesting to look at.”

“I wanted something to refresh them about the major themes of the year and also at the same time make them focus on teamwork, which is something we’ve focused on over the course of four years of MAP,” Davey said.

The five murals outside Davey’s room were done by his U.S. history classes about 10 years ago and the five murals inside were done two years ago.

Last year, MAP seniors painted 10 murals on the bottom windows inside and outside of MAP AP Lang and AP Lang teacher Jason Friend’s classroom. The murals were completed with waterproof acrylic paint made for metal and each painting is approximately 2.5 ft. by 2.5 ft.

The murals painted around Davey’s room focused on some of the major history themes from the year while the murals around Friend’s room tended to focus more on major themes from the English curriculum.

For example, the murals inside Davey’s room reflect important themes of different historical eras, including civil rights, religious and racial equality, government and civil liberties in school. The murals painted last year in Friend’s room reflected issues on gender, the impact of media and news on people’s conceptions, ideas of utopia and dystopia and the philosophy of ethics. A mural highlighting the class of 2018’s MAP experience connects the hallways between Davey and Friend’s rooms.

Alumna Sahana Sripadanna is a 2018 graduate who took part in painting Friend’s classroom. Her group’s painting is designed to look like a Snapchat filter that overlays various social media icons and brands across a person’s face.

“Each group was assigned to design a mural based on a MAP unit from the year,” Sripadanna said. “We got dystopia, so we wanted to comment on how social media gone awry could create a dystopian environment.”

According to Friend, students first come up with several ideas, choose the best design with the help of Media Arts teacher Joel Tarbox and get their final designs approved by the administration. Then, students must apply the primer to the wall before starting the topcoat painting process.

The current MAP seniors will most likely paint their murals on either English 11 teacher Natasha Ritchie or history teacher Matt Torrens’ room. After those walls are filled, the tradition will continue with the sophomore and freshman MAP classrooms.

“We call it the ‘Leave Your Mark’ project. It’s kind of their last chance before leaving high school to leave a permanent mark on the walls in one of their MAP classes,” Friend said. “Especially for Media Arts students who are used to using technology to create their artwork, it’s a fun last way of using the traditional artistic medium.”