Some students at McPherson Middle School are participating in an after-school activity that will become part of the building for years to come.
Nicky Bowers teaches art at McPherson Middle School and looks for ways to improve the visual aesthetic of the facility inside and outside her classroom.
"It's just very beige," Bowers said. "I feel like it should be lively and fun, but I don't want to take away from the integrity of the building and the age of it."
Bowers felt color was needed in the school's gymnasium. The western wall of the space used to be the exterior of the school building until the addition of the gym, which was enclosed in cement bricks in shades of brown.
"Every day, I would walk through here and think, 'this is the most boring gym,'" Bowers said.
So she gave her students an assignment — to design the elements of a school-themed mural.
"They all submitted a drawing about what makes them proud at MMS," Bowers said. "I took bits and pieces from all their drawings and put the wall together to create this big thing."
All the submitted drawings — which included images representing the school, sports, the arts and reading — were woven together into a plan for the mural.
"I wanted something to do after school and I like art," said Kendall Boughfman.
Maddie Dobson said she has enjoyed seeing the progress of the mural's creation and she is proud to be part of something that others will view after she graduates.
"It's something that will stay at the school," Dobson said.
After painting the wall with a primer coat of white paint, Bowers drew the outlines of the objects in the mural by hand.
"I had intentions of using a projector, but there was just no good way to set it up," Bowers said. "I spend a lot of time on the other side of the gym, just staring at it. It's hard to see sometimes when you're up close, because it's so big."
As her students add paint to the wall, theatre masks, musical notes, a football and a track shoe were filled in.
"The bulldog was the first thing we did, and that was the moment I said, 'what have I gotten myself into,'" Bowers laughed.
Edgar Martinez carefully dabbed yellow paint on the wall to color in a tennis ball.
"I like to draw and paint a lot, and I thought this would be a cool project for school," Martinez said.
Bowers lets the 10 art students who are participating come and go as their schedule allows, working around other extracurricular activities such as sports.
"I wanted it to be kind of easy going — if you can come, come; if you can't, don't," Bowers said. "I had no idea how long it would take. So if you're in volleyball, by all means, go to volleyball, and then when the season is over, you can come here."
The art class works on the mural every Wednesday after school for about an hour. It will take several months to complete the mural.
"I'm hoping that, once we finish this, I can move on to some other projects around the school," Bowers said.
Sherwin Williams donated the paint being used to create the McPherson Middle School mural.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.