The blank walls of Johnston High

The blank walls of Johnston High

The blank school walls are pretty outdated. Our most current mural still features McCain as a presidential hopeful. There’s been another election since, our history textbooks have caught up, and yet there still aren’t any new designs. Our school has more murals faded into the stadium’s pavement and on the city snow plows than we have painted on our walls. Now, there isn’t always a new concept every year, but it’s been a while, and a mural once every few years would definitely improve the monotony of our halls.

“The murals as they represent identities are real ways to see yourself in the school,” art teacher Dan Weiss said, “another place we can feel that we belong.”

Murals are a great source of community engagement, being the most public art form we have at this school. They serve a purpose similar to a time capsule, reminding us about what life was like for students years ago. They also display our school’s culture to visitors, especially as they are centered around the athletic and music departments where opposing teams pass by.

“I see them representing a time period of now,” associate principal Jerry Stratton said. “There’s things from entertainment, the arts, sciences, and the newest one is political. I think they’re representing the time period and the lives of the kids from those years.”

Perhaps the recent handprint boards were meant to replace the murals. I have no problem with this great idea by the student council, but the idea behind their creation is fundamentally different. While the handprints literally leave a lasting impression of each grade, they tell us nothing about them besides the size of their palms. There is no culture expressed in those blots of paint, they should not be a replacement for the murals.

The administration has turned down mural proposals before. To be accepted, a general consensus says the murals need to display school spirit, reflect our community, or have an educational value. However, their isn’t a set procedure on exactly what is required. 

“When it comes to murals and what we put up on our walls permanently, I’m going to seek out others opinions,” principal Brent Riessen said, “We want to be careful that something we put up their is going to be lasting, and stand the test of time.”

Most recently, the administration decided to turn down a proposal for a geometric design. Riessen and other administrators appreciated the artistic merit of the design, but felt it didn’t have the other values they were looking for.

“The murals we have already are things going on in students’ lives, things going on that year,” Riessen said, “The geometric theme was different, and didn’t fit the themes we already had on the walls.”

Even though we are trying to move into a new high school, that is no excuse for squandering our generation’s chance to leave a legacy. Whether it’s high school students, middle school students, or pre-schoolers passing by them, whoever sees those murals will know who has walked these halls before them.

Now, we have the skills currently to paint the best mural yet. Just look at the sidewalk during homecoming. If the volleyball team could paint a temporary masterpiece outside, then why haven’t we had this talent indoors?

A mural is relatively simple to paint, the standard method is almost as easy as a paint-by-numbers, once the design is sketched out on paper. We just need someone to step up with a proposal, and a group of people willing to spend some time painting it. Just think how great it would be to flood the administration with proposals.

We should not allow ourselves to be forgotten from these halls. Though we move on after we graduate, our spirit is left behind in the permanent things we create. Carpe Diem. Let’s paint a mural.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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