By PRISHAA VALA
Los Banos High senior
For years seniors have painted their parking spots at Los Banos High School. More than just a tradition, the act of painting a parking spot not only leaves a beautiful work of art but also entails a great deal of school spirit.
Before this school year started, for a fee of $35 students were able to purchase a parking permit for the school parking lot. Seniors were able to select their own individual parking spots and allowed to paint them, with a deadline for completing the painting.
The seniors (and this year I am one of them) were told that choosing their spots would be a first-come, first-served basis; keeping this in mind, the high-schoolers went to extreme lengths to get their parking spot.
Having been informed by the school to be there by 7 a.m., I got to campus just to see that people had rushed over an hour early to park on their future spots before anyone could claim it with paint.
Many spots had already been painted the night before, and a few students had even camped out the entire night just so they could be the first to purchase their parking in the morning.
With high spirits, I had been sure that nobody would have had the energy to get up so early to paint a parking spot, let alone expect the parking lot to resemble a destruction derby for people racing to paint their spot.
Once their spots were secured, many seniors brought a broom or leaf blower to clear the spot before painting. Then some students outlined their pieces in chalk which was later to be painted in, whereas others were bold enough to freehand their designs.
I was in awe seeing the importance that many seniors felt decorating their spot. It was then I realized that the act of painting did not just have decorative means but allowed students to express themselves and pride themselves on their high school career.
Their high school career had been only possible with the support of staff members through a campus that accepted every individual and encouraged each to be the best version of themselves. All of which was a high school journey that shaped the seniors into who they were through years of promoting individualism, self-expression and school spirit.
As I watched them paint their parking spots, I saw that many students paid homage to who they were as a person when depicting art, whether it was through painting something of a childhood cartoon, busy patterns that catch the eye or a tribute to their heritage.
I painted a peacock, with inspiration from the origins of Indian artwork; I wanted to give respect to my ancestry and culture. For years, traditional methods of Indian artwork have included an abstract means of interpreting nature.
Whether it was through the practice of henna, the art of staining a design onto one’s hand in preparation for a celebration or the act of drawing, abstract design has always been of visual significance throughout the generations in India.
I drew two mandalas, or flower designs, which symbolize transformation and positivity. Then I painted a peacock, as peacocks symbolize respect, power, strength, confidence and beauty – attributes that I associate all too well with my school’s personality.
I talked with two other seniors who had painted their spots, Jocelyn Vierra and Paris Kelly.
Jocelyn decided to create a spinoff of the Jaws movie poster. Bursting with creativity, in the white area where the words “Jaws” are written in the movie poster, Vierra instead substituted her beloved nickname “Joce.”
Jocelyn had always loved the series of Jaws movies and has always had a peak interest in the ocean. Since she feels passionately about sea life, through her painting she wanted to raise awareness of the extinction of sharks.
Not only was she able to point out a message about environmental preservation, Jocelyn was also able to express herself and her interests in a marine biology career and create a remarkable piece that is very aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
She felt as though the moment she had waited for all of high school had finally arrived and felt that moment was bittersweet. She thought this would be the last year before all her friends were to go their separate ways, but she also had never felt more connected to her school and her community than that moment.
Paris Kelly painted a fun pattern for her parking spot. Having a coral background with pink, purple and red flowers, Paris attributed her artwork to a 60’s style theme.
She used bold colors to represent her bubbly personality, with a hint of warmness to showcase her expectations for senior year to be radiant and of warm sentiments. She felt more connected with the school than ever as the first big senior event was a great success.
Paris thought that, even though it was a lot of work, painting senior parking spots was worth it as it invoked feelings of inspiration and hope for what is in store for the rest of the year.
Painting the parking spots set the tone for the rest of the year to be full of aspiration, greater student involvement and a contagious passion for Tiger Pride that is boundless in charisma.
Painting the parking lot not only allowed seniors to feel as though they are a part of a greater identity in correlation to the school, but it inspired a movement in adding color to the black and white feeling of senior year that many students become absorbed in.
All which goes to show that not only do these seniors symbolize a better future for our society through their hard work and determination, but that the future is bright and colorful too.