Leni Hicks-Dutt ’23 starts a new 12th-grade tradition at the School. (Edan Zinn)
Leni Hicks-Dutt ’23 starts a new 12th-grade tradition at the School.

Edan Zinn

Leni Hicks-Dutt ’23 Leads Community Mural Painting

September 21, 2022

For years, the walls of the Chase Building’s lower hallway were a hodgepodge of old student art, blank spaces, and an awkward row of coat hooks. Upper School Head Joshua Neudel wants to change that—and he wants students to take the lead.

Last year, students painted the word “COMMUNITY,” surrounded by colorful doodles and memos. This year, however, Neudel had different plans.

“We had this idea of having the rising 12th grade come up with a mural wall, and then each year, that just becomes like the mural wall for them,” Neudel said. “That was the premise, to create something special that this class could do.”

Director of Innovation and Design Kathryn Lee was inspired to lead a mural design contest for rising 12th-grade students. Participants sketched their ideas and anonymously presented them to the grade to vote on a winning design.

Leni Hicks-Dutt’s original design.

The Class of 2023 elected Leni Hicks-Dutt ’23, an avid art student, to lead the first student-led mural project. Her design, featuring “Brimmer + May Gators” on a green striped background, won the most votes.

“I used Procreate and sketched my design digitally,” Hicks-Dutt said. “When creating the design, I wanted to make sure the design would be easy to freehand on a much larger surface.”

Hicks-Dutt said that her inspiration stemmed from the 12th-grade class and the school’s official colors.

Eleanor Reyelt ’23 and Zak Adler ’23 paint around the letters. (Hicks-Dutt)

“I also wanted to incorporate some green and honor all the seniors, so I wrote all the Class of 2023’s first names on the bottom,” Hicks-Dutt said.

From there, with the help of Lee and Creative Arts Department Chair Bill Jacob, Hicks-Dutt preordered the supplies she needed before the summer began. However, painting the actual mural was a balancing act, according to Hicks-Dutt.

“When preseason week came around, I worked when I could, juggling painting, soccer practice, and summer work,” Hicks-Dutt said. “The final touches done with paint pens and sharpies were completed into the second week of school.”

“I had many people help me along the way. Some days there were very large groups of people, and on others, it was just me,” Hicks-Dutt said.

Zak Adler ’23 and Sevak Glorikian ’23 continue painting. (Hicks-Dutt)

The group’s size multiplied as word got around about Hicks-Dutt’s project. On the first day of painting, Eleanor Reyelt ’23, Zak Adler ’23, and Thomas Gheewhalla ’23 helped Hicks-Dutt cover the wall in the first layer of paint. Owen Williams ’23, Sevak Glorikian ’23, and Kate Hirschen ’23 joined forces to help on Day Two. Kaylee Little ’23 and Emma Guevara ’23 assisted with the lettering and finishing touches.

“All the time they spent out of their week was really significant and helpful in finishing the paint-aspect of the mural before school started,” Hicks-Dutt said. “Ms. Lee and Mr. Jacob gave me full creative freedom, and I really appreciated their help in getting me prepared and their check-in visits.”

Hicks-Dutt remains proud of her work and its positive impact on the community. Members of the Class of 2023 agree, noting its representation of the grade’s resilience and collaboration throughout their four years of high school, each one affected in some way by COVID-19.

Guevara, who serves as 12th Grade President and helped with the mural, said that she sees beauty in the finished artwork but also in the process.

“Not only does it represent the seniors as a community, but the work that we put into it brought us closer together,” Guevara said. “We listened to music and just spent some quality time with our classmates.”

The finished mural, complete with the names of each student in the Class of 2023. (Hicks-Dutt)

Eleanor Reyelt ’23 and Thomas Gheewalla ’23 work on the stripes.

Eleanor Reyelt ’23 and Sevak Glorikian ’23 paint the stripes.

Kate Hirschen ’23 and Owen Williams ’23 work on the ‘S.’

Emma Guevara ’23 and Kaylee Little ’23 add details to the lettering.

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About the Contributor
Photo of Edan Zinn
Edan Zinn, Outgoing Editor-in-Chief

Edan celebrated four years on The Gator's staff. In addition to editing stories, he also took photos for The Gator and was a member of the Creative Arts Diploma Program for Visual Arts. Edan finds photojournalism to be a fun method of artistic storytelling.

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