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Capital High School senior works to improve campus through art

Posted at 6:04 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 11:34:58-04

HELENA – A wall in the stairwell of the Capital High School basement has been transformed over the course of the last several years thanks to some student imagination and effort.

While the project started as a group effort, it has whittled down to one senior who is making sure the work is complete before she gets her diploma.

Mariah Thomas is easy to find, at least during certain times of the day.

“I ended up switching up my schedule at semester,” says Mariah. “So I’ve been working on it two hours, every day. Plus some extra times on lunches and that kind of thing to get it done.”

She has a regular schedule of attending to this beautification project, working to complete it before graduation.

It all began three years ago as a temporary, large-scale paper drawing, worked on by a group of students, and grew from there.

The original group of students included Mariah, along with Tavia Wine, Brady Oekle, Brittany Woods, McKayla Marshall, Madison Meuer, Emily Haus and DeLaney Heppner.

“We thought up the idea to cut up the pieces and then to trace them out,” explains DeLaney. “And then once you got whole piece you could color it in with pencil, in which it would later be painted on.”

Now Mariah is working to bring that group effort to completion.

“At times, looking at it and being like wow, there’s so much left to do. But at this point, looking at it, it’s like wow, there’s not a lot left. Which is so cool to get to that point,” she says.

For teacher and project coordinator Genevieve Anderson, it’s more than a beautification project.

She says it’s shown the students anyone can be an artist and that even the tasks that seem overwhelming can be completed.

“You take something that’s really big, that’s maybe overwhelming that you might need to do now, maybe it’s something you might need to do in the future and you break it down in to pieces and parts and if you stick with it, do a little bit here, a little bit there, suddenly you have this amazing thing in the end,” says Mrs. Anderson.

The students agree that beyond the act of creating art, it’s given them something more.

“It’s a good thing to do when you’re stressed out or just to calm yourself down,” says DeLaney. “Even to get together as a group of friends and have fun, whether it’s painting or drawing or something like that.”

And not just for them. Other students are drawn to the corridor and the project, as well.

“Throughout the year, there have been different kids who trickle in, there’s a group of like 6 or 7 kids who come in every morning and hang out and talks, that kind of thing while I’m painting. That’s just been really cool to see how kids from all different backgrounds are all united by art,” says Mariah.

The mural is part of the Capital High School Beautification Project, which gives any student the opportunity to improve the campus through art.

Reporting by Melissa Jensen for MTN News