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Senior Spotlight: Fort Hayes Seniors Leave Mark On Columbus Commons With Underwater Mural

group of students in art studio

May 30, 2024 – Fort Hayes Career Center seniors are transforming an underground pedestrian tunnel connecting High Street to the Columbus Commons into an immersive underwater experience. 

Throughout May, the art portfolio seniors completed their capstone project: a vibrant mural adorning the pedestrian tunnel beneath the Highpoint student painting a wallon Columbus Commons apartments.

“They are getting ready to graduate from Columbus City Schools, and this mural will be here for a long time,” said Megan Evans, Fort Hayes Career Center art portfolio instructor. “They are going to have the ownership of being able to say that it was their mural.”

Every year, the art portfolio seniors complete a large-scale, community-based final project using varying media, including paintings and sculptures. This year was no different.

It started when Oakwood Management Company decided some of its properties, including Highpoint on Columbus Commons, needed a facelift. Dawn Barkley, representative for the Weiler family, one of Oakwood Management Company's co-owning families, said the owners wanted to transform the tunnel into a work of art.

Barkley, who manages the Weiler family’s Teachers’ Dream Grant with Columbus City Schools, immediately thought of Evans and her art portfolio students. The Teachers’ Dream Grant awards grants up to $5,000 to Columbus City School teachers to assist in improving teaching and learning at CCS. Evans received the Teachers’ Dream Grant during the 2009-2010 school year, and her work continued to impress Barkley.

“I absolutely love working with Megan and her students,” said Barkley. “I met with students to tell them about the project and was impressed with their ideas and enthusiasm.”

The estimated $12,000 project started in March when students met the clients to discuss mural ideas. The seniors then visited the site and formed teams to develop sketches and renderings for client presentations.

Art portfolio students finalized the selected design with Columbus muralist Sarah Hout. The design features an underwater theme with a cityscape.

“The client wanted something that just made the space come alive, but also was potentially interactive for people walking through and family-friendly that also related to High Street,” Hout said.

Once students finished the design, they trained for the scissor lift, the machine used to reach the highest sections of the mural. Then, they started painting the tunnel. West High School senior Selena Brison really enjoyed doing what she loves outside the classroom.

“When I paint, it just spaces me out and takes me to a different space, and I just feel calm and relaxed,” said Brison.

“This is a fun last project,” said Fort Hayes Arts & Academics senior Amelia Jones, adding the scissor lift was her favorite part. “People come up to us and ask how we’re doing it or what it is, and they are really excited to see it.”

Jones’s sentiment is what Barkley hopes all of the art portfolio seniors feel towards the project.

“Hopefully the Ft. Hayes students will feel ownership for making their mark on Columbus,” Barkley said. “It's a huge project and should boost their confidence to do something so magnificent on this scale. I want them to feel proud of their talent, dedication, and teamwork.”

Columbus City Schools recognizes the Fort Hayes art portfolio seniors for contributing art to the Columbus community, which many will enjoy for years.

Power of One

Priority 1 - Whole Child FocusedPriority 2 - Equitable Opportunities for AllPriority 3 - Strong Learning Communities in Every RegionPriority 4 - Authentic EngagementPortrait Attribute 1 - AdaptabilityPortrait Attribute 2 - CommunicationPortrait Attribute 3 - CreativityPortrait Attribute 4 - Critical ThinkingPortrait Attribute 5 - Global EmpathyPortrait Attribute 6 - Technology