FHC Students Turn Tragedy into Triumph

Posted on 05/13/2019
FHC Front Entrance Mural with Spartan

In the wake of a tragedy, Francis Howell Central students have transformed a reminder of the incident into a work of art. Following an accident in April when a student drove through the front doors of the school, FHC art students have created elaborate and colorful murals to greet students and visitors.

The main entrance to FHC is boarded up with plywood until the FHSD Facilities Department is able to repair the structure over the summer. Seeing a blank canvas and an opportunity, students approached art teacher Judy Switzer about adding some color to create a more inviting atmosphere. Switzer directed students to come up with potential designs for the murals.
Tropical mural
Senior Haley Heitzman, whose design was chosen for the inside wall, knew right away that she wanted to create a colorful tropical landscape to brighten the halls of FHC. “We see the same gray walls all day long,” said Heitzman. “I wanted to bring some color and nature inside to break up the empty space.”

Dr. Sonny Arnel in front graffiti muralStudents collaborated on a graffiti wall with designs that celebrate FHC, including a likeness of Principal Dr. Sonny Arnel that says, “It’s Always Sonny at FHC.” The front entrance of the school was designed to look like the doors that were previously there, but with a large Spartan welcoming visitors. The mural was a huge undertaking for these student artists, who had never worked on a project of this scale. It was truly a collaborative effort with over 20 artists working on the mural over the course of four days.

The mural not only changed the landscape of FHC and added a little color to the school, but it also changed the narrative around the unfortunate incident that had occurred a few weeks earlier. “It went from a conversation in the hall about the accident and changed it to how cool the mural is and the great work done by the art students,” said Switzer. “The transformation is amazing and has had a positive impact on the school atmosphere.”

There has been such a positive response to the murals, students and staff hope to find some way to save the artwork. However, it may be difficult to find a home for such large canvases. While the future of the murals is still unknown, the school does plan to preserve the art and the memories by having photography students capture the beautiful works of art for future Spartans to enjoy.

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