Evergreen Park grads give summer break the brush-off
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org July 23, 2012 8:34PM
Final touches are applied to a mural painted by recent graduates of Evergreen Park Community High School. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 25, 2012 6:03AM
Rather than spend their summer vacation relaxing, four recent graduates returned to Evergreen Park High School and spent several hours a day painting.
At the invitation of Principal Bill Sanderson and their art teachers, the former students — Tania Gutierrez, April Wyatt, Justin Mitchell and Christina Ortiz — designed and painted a mural in the school’s pupil personnel services department.
Now, instead of staring at a stark wall of white cinder block, employees see a colorful mural with a theme based on the department’s offerings.
The PPS department “takes care of all the students’ needs,” administrative assistant Ann Sekula said Monday. That could be providing transcripts to colleges, handling attendance and discipline issues, keeping track of fees, and resolving curriculum questions, administrative assistant Robin Fullarton said.
She and Sekula have enjoyed seeing the students four days a week over the past two months.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Sekula said of the wall.
Mitchell asked them what the department did and incorporated it into the design, which was tweaked and refined with input from the other three graduates.
“When we described everything we did, Justin (Mitchell) came up with the idea of us being the heart of the school,” Fullarton said.
That’s why a heart is prominently featured on an open book in the center of the mural. So are other items associated with the office, such as school supplies, a phone and a lock.
Four rings signify the four years of high school, and a Mustangs logo is prominently featured.
Ortiz, 18, said the work started May 18, just before graduation.
“It’s a good experience to leave our mark at the school,” said Ortiz, who still managed to sneak in some summer fun around the painting.
Gutierrez, 18, said the toughest part of the mural was painting a book near the center. The shading needed to create a shadow effect was difficult, she said. That’s what the young women were working on Monday as they put the finishing touches on the mural.
Wyatt, 20, decided to devote time to the project “because it’s historical,” she said.
“It feels like you’re leaving a part of yourself here,” Gutierrez said.
Things went smoothly, although several revisions were made, Wyatt said. Some items needed to be resized. Sometimes, colors had to change.
“The stars were a problem. It took a couple of tries figuring out how they should look,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt has been interested in art for years.
“Mostly, it’s about imagination,” Wyatt said. “Usually, when I see something, I’m a cartoonist, so it’s just imagination; things you don’t think about every day.”
Ortiz didn’t get interested in art until high school.
“I like making things look realistic,” she said.
All three are getting ready for college. Gutierrez will study criminal justice at St. Xavier University in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community; Ortiz and Wyatt plan to attend Moraine Valley Community College for two years each to get the basics out of the way. Ortiz is interested in environmental sciences and Wyatt in elementary education.
Sanderson is impressed with their artwork.
“They created the work. We try to give them criteria and guidelines. These are some of our top art students recommended by their teachers,” Sanderson said. “This allows them to do their work and a chance to leave their legacy.”
This is the second straight summer graduates have designed and painted a mural at the school. The 2011 mural is on display in the school’s learning resource center.
“It’s nice of them to give up their time over summer,” Fullarton said.