On a day when school was closed, the student parking lot at Seymour High School should have been empty.
But that wasn’t the case Monday when 71 seniors spent the Labor Day holiday leaving their mark at the school, literally, by painting their parking spots.
The event has become a fun tradition at SHS with this being the fourth year it has taken place.
Besides being an expressive way to show off their creative talents and unique interests, the activity serves as a fundraiser for a cause the student body has adopted over the years.
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Each student had to pay $40 to reserve their spot, and all of the money raised goes to support the school’s Riley Dance Marathon, which is a fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.
This year, the painting fundraiser brought in $2,840, which was just $30 less than last year when 82 students paid $35 to participate.
Since the 2014-15 school year, SHS Dance Marathon has raised $84,312 for Riley.
"Our students truly have kind hearts and giving attitudes," said teacher Kelly Reasoner, who serves as the faculty sponsor for the SHS Dance Marathon committee. "It is inspiring to realize that at a school of approximately 1,500 students, we were able to raise nearly $22,000 last year. I think that reflects the giving nature of our students, staff and local families and businesses."
Students had to come up with their own parking spot designs beforehand so they could be approved by administrators and supply their own paints, brushes and materials for the day.
To get the job done, many seniors recruited friends and family to help, setting up pop-up tents in order to block the sun while they worked.
Senior Keira Rockey came up with a rainbow design for her spot. Originally, she had wanted to incorporate a unicorn but decided it was going to be too much work.
"So I just stuck with the rainbow idea. I still think it looks pretty, though," she said. "I’m going to put 2021 at the end of the rainbow."
Rockey brought her mom and a friend to join her in getting the work done.
"It was something to do," she said of the opportunity. "And you only get to do it once."
Reasoner said picking her favorite designs was next to impossible.
"They are all so personal and unique," she said. "It’s really cool to see what the students valued enough to include."
Senior Allie Goble said besides helping support Riley, her $40 donation served another important purpose, ensuring a parking spot every day.
"I want to have my spot," she said.
Known for her collection of rubber ducks, Goble decided to use her spot to highlight that interest. Her design included an image of a big yellow rubber duck and the words "Keep On Duckin’."
Having watched other students paint spots in years past, Goble said she couldn’t wait for her turn.
"And really, I just wanted to paint a big duck," she said.
Besides painting their own spots, many of the seniors said the best part of the day is walking around and see everyone else’s masterpieces.
Senior David Juarez free-handed an image of popular Marvel superhero Black Panther for his design and included the wording "King Foreva" in tribute to actor Chadwick Boseman, who played the character in the 2018 movie by the same name. Boseman died Aug. 28 of colon cancer.
"Black Panther was my favorite character growing up, and I wanted to pay homage to that and to Chadwick Boseman," Juarez said.
For Juarez, painting a parking spot is just one of many senior activities he hopes to take part in this year.
"I want to get involved in as much as I can," he said. "You’re only a senior once, and why not go out with a bang?"
With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting fundraisers across the country, Reasoner said they are working on plans of how to host this year’s Dance Marathon, including possibly moving the event to the spring.
Prior to COVID-19, the goal was to raise $20,000, and that hasn’t changed, she said.
"At this time, we are working very hard to get as close to that total as possible, given the circumstances," she said.
The Dance Marathon committee continues to meet and come up with alternative ideas for fundraisers. Typically, fundraising was conducted at ballgames and by hosting dances, all of which are not able to occur traditionally, Reasoner said.
Each committee member will be raising funds on their own and the committee will be contacting local businesses and individuals to ask for donations.
"So many of our children, families and extended families have been directly impacted by the great work done through Riley Children’s Hospital," Reasoner said. "That has motivated our students and the local community to give immeasurably to this wonderful cause."