Tahoe youths painting the town red, and blue and green …
Teen-agers, paint and city property.
It may sound like a bad combination, but no spray paint is involved here, and what eight South Tahoe High School students are producing is far from graffiti.
Assisting with a redevelopment project at the Ski Run Marina, students are painting five 15-foot-long murals on a line of k-rails, or concrete road barriers, near Lake Tahoe’s shore.
The students have been planning, designing and painting the murals since the end of June. They plan to finish Friday.
“At first, I was a little nervous. But now, I’m very impressed,” said Alison Harris, a South Tahoe Middle School teacher and organizer of the project. “It’s been like magic. I’m really proud of what they’re doing.”
Harris said there is more to the project than a group of teen-agers going out and painting on the concrete. The students had to submit preliminary drawings to be approved by the South Lake Tahoe Redevelopment Agency. Also, students are being paid a $100 scholarship for their work.
“It’s like my first job,” said Lewis Senores, a freshman at South Tahoe High School. “I think it’s really good we have a chance to do this. It’s a good experience to have.”
Harris said the content of each mural is different, but all have a Lake Tahoe theme. Three will be of Lake Tahoe scenes, while the other two will depict recreation in the area.
The barriers had to be there, and the redevelopment agency thought they should at least be pleasing to look at. The agency contacted the South Lake Tahoe Arts Council, which contacted Harris.
Phylice Walker from the arts council thought the project seemed perfect for students.
“There’s very little arts education in schools these days, and that’s a real detriment to education,” she said. “You get a lot from the arts – creative thinking, problem solving. And they’re getting these kinds of things (by painting the murals). They’re learning how to start with a vision and go through with it to completion.”
Harris said the students are learning from the experience.
“They’re learning how to deal with being hired, how to submit drawings, how to do a mural, how to paint with acrylic paints,” Harris said. “They’re learning camaraderie, how to cooperate and work together. They’re learning to work as a team.”
They’re having fun, too.
“I got a call from Ms. Harris about doing this, and it seemed like a fun thing to do,” said Adam Wexelblatt, a sophomore. “It’s been been pretty fun. I’ve never painted a big picture like this before. It’s kind of a new experience.”
“It’s fun. It’s interesting,” said Jamey Stewart, a senior. “I’m learning how to paint, because I don’t know how to. I’m having fun.”
A good time was not the only incentive to get involved.
“I really like to draw. When I had the opportunity to do this for the city, something that would be seen by a lot of people, I got excited,” Senores said. “It’s a really neat experience.”
The murals will remain on the concrete barriers at least until next spring.
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