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A Lasting Legacy: Conifer Seniors Leave Their Mark

2024 Graduating Conifer seniors are marking their time at Conifer with a fingerprint on the school mural
Kanin Cadam
Sophomore NAHS Member Enji Jensen paints the senior mural. This year’s senior mural is an underwater theme, featuring jellyfish, whales, bubbles, and other underwater creatures. Seniors’ fingerprints are meant to resemble fish, forming a school of fish following the large whales. “It takes a lot of people and a lot of planning,” Enji said.

For the fourth year in a row, seniors participated in the making of the senior mural. Each year, the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) paints a mural representing Conifer High School. Near the end of the year, during their senior breakfast, seniors leave a fingerprint on this mural. 

When the new wing of Conifer was built, a space was made to house artwork. The current principal at the time, Wesley Paxton, came to NAHS regarding an idea he had about the new space. He proposed they create an artwork that everyone could contribute to. They decided that they would create a piece that left the legacy of graduating seniors. The mural is made with the student’s fingerprints.

“We thought that that was a neat thing that there’s a small piece of their physical self left behind for us to remember them,” art teacher Laura Svigel said.

The mural is one of NAHS’s largest projects during the year. 

“It’s the big project we do every year. We don’t always have a theme for it but it takes a while, it takes a couple of months,” sophomore NAHS Member Enji Jensen said. 

The mural is a year-long project which takes at least 30 hours to paint. NAHS offers community volunteer hours, which can be achieved by taking part in the making of the mural. 

Art teacher Laura Svigel guides seniors to place their fingerprint on the mural. This year, NAHS members requested that senior fingerprints remain along a marked path, creating the effect of a school of fish. The school of fish represents the legacies of this year’s seniors. “I’d like to say my legacy is helping eSports get a kickstart. We kind of started it, and now it’s growing, and it’s beautiful,” senior Shea Ormsby said.
Photo Provided by Becky Paschke

The first mural made in 2020 was an aspen grove, where seniors’ fingerprints represented aspen leaves floating on the wind or lying on the ground. The second mural featured a night sky, so the fingerprints left resembled stars spanning the sky, The third mural, which has only a few days left in the senior commons, was a sunflower field with a mountain range in the background. In this one, the fingerprints represented pollen in the field. This year, the mural includes whales, jellyfish, and other ocean creatures. 

“It’s gonna be like a school of fish, and since we are all one school, and they want us to be this school of fish together,’” Svigel said. 

Recently, the space for the fingerprints has become more strict and narrow due to the nature of the mural. For example, the aspen grove was very open because leaves would naturally fill the area. However, this year the fingerprints had to be placed behind the whales. The reason for this was that the art club wanted to reveal the covered parts of the mural after the fingerprints were placed. They also didn’t want the fingerprints outside of the section they designated. 

“I leave it up to the students and their artistic vision for what they wanted the mural to look like,” Svigel said. “The students sometimes feel slightly disrespected by their peers if they don’t put it in the right spot. And students really respect the process.”

Once the 2024 mural is put up, the previous sunflower one will be stored in a storage closet near the Aux gym alongside the rest of the murals. However, to preserve these art pieces and the legacy that seniors left on them, art teachers Molly Snively and Laura Svigel have taken pictures of previous murals and plan to print them out to place alongside the mural that is currently shown. 

“I’ve always been a little jealous of the murals, cause I always think they’re so cool. And now I’m finally part of it, and I was so excited to put my fishy on it,” senior Shea Ormsby said.

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