The striking bright neon graffiti mural honoring Bay High School’s Class of 2020 has become a new attraction in Bay Village. With popular video game characters like Mario and Donkey Kong and a row of five black lights illuminating the painting at night, it’s not hard to see why.
The 60-foot-long, 9-foot-high mural at Bay Middle School features all 218 graduating seniors and was made by inmates from the Grafton Correctional Institution. Community members can view the mural through mid-August.
The project was created through an art program sponsored by Kent State University, Oberlin College and Baldwin Wallace University. Four inmates designed and created the wall using $900 worth of materials supplied by the committee.
Participants in the eight-year-old art program create murals for area schools as a way to get ready for life after lock up. Parents Alexis Oster, Traci Herbucl Kristin Hewko met with the inmates to plan the painting earlier this year.
“The three of us traveled to meet these men in February and were simply amazed at their talent,” Reid said. “They were so happy to help and grateful for the project.”
The mural was originally meant to be a surprise for the seniors’ after prom party. When schools shut down, both prom and the party were postponed until July, then canceled in late June.
“We wanted to put this up because we wanted to remind the students that they haven’t been forgotten and that the community loves them and is proud of their accomplishments,” said Reid, mother of Kelsey Reid whose art on the wall is a swimmer.
The committee began planning this year’s after party last May. The theme was 2020 Visions for the Future and the party would have included a casino, a lounge and a room filled with virtual-reality games.
On Saturday the district is holding a virtual commencement for the Class of 2020. The ceremony can be viewed at bayvillageschools.com at 7:15 p.m. and will include speeches from the principal and superintendent and seniors Paige Thompson and Cami Drenkhan.
A giant thank-you card, which has been on a table near the mural for visiting seniors to sign, will be sent sometime in August to the inmates who created the mural. Organizers plan to store the mural for a future 2020 class reunion, Reid said.
Despite graduating seniors missing out on their prom, high school Principal Jason Martin believes that the mural is a great way to bring them together one last time and that it captured their personalities perfectly.
“I think it was a really cool project that our senior parents put together,” he said. “It’s a really cool tribute to each kid and it really reflects the diversity and skills that the class of 2020 brought to Bay High School.”
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