by Michele Collins
In early August, rising seniors at Nordonia High School raced to get their parking spot applications in, including a $10 fee to enable them to paint their space. The painted spaces program has become a signature event for the seniors, in which they use colorful artwork to let everyone know a particular parking spot is their own.
Seniors use outdoor exterior paint for the inside of their parking space to create everything from messages to cartoons, to modern art designs.
According to Kristi Gunyula, NHS art teacher and art club advisor, the painted parking space program was started several years ago, and in 2019, was taken over by the art club as a fundraising program.
The $10 fee collected from each participating senior allows the art club to participate in special projects, travel to museums and galleries, and bring in guest speakers. But the real winners of the program are the seniors themselves.
“The fundraiser has been very successful with more than half the senior class participating each year,” said Gunyula. “Every year, I feel like it’s catching on more and more with more kids participating. Students are asking earlier in the summer when they’re going to get a chance to leave their mark.”
She added that other benefits to the program are seniors getting a spot near their classroom or next to friends.
“I think if you talk to most students, they enjoy a true opportunity to make something their own and kick off their senior year with a fun activity,” Gunyula said. “They race to get their packets turned in hoping they get a spot close to their first period class, and they come in groups hoping to find spots by their friends.”
According to Gunyula, students download a packet from the school’s website and within the packet is an outline of what’s permitted, a sheet to sketch their design (needed for preapproval), a recommended supply list, and a contract outlining rules and procedures. Once a packet is turned in and approved, students can choose their spot.
Students are given approximately six days to paint their spots prior to the start of the school year. Gunyula said the painting times were moved to the evening this year to keep seniors from baking in the sun during the previous daytime hours.
As a result of the parking space program, the school enjoys a bright and colorful view of the parking lot and learns a little about the seniors through their artwork.
The senior parking space art is in place for the school year, but the spaces get painted over at the end of the year. Most seniors, according to Gunyula, are okay with that.
“I don’t think students mind when their spots get painted over,” she said. “They know from the beginning that their art is temporary, so the expectation is to leave their mark at the school while they’re here and then move forward knowing they had a unique experience they can share down the road.” ∞
Photo: A Nordonia senior paints her parking spot with flowers.Photo courtesy of Kristi Gunyula.