Riana Spiller, a Lakota East senior, masks off her school parking spot in preparation for paint. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Lakota East parking lot turns into art gallery

And because of a first-time program, Lakota East High School’s parking lot now looks like it never has before.

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The once dull grey student parking spaces are now dotted by vibrant, colorful designs, school and college logos and names of their teen owners.

“I was super excited,” said senior Hazal Kaya, recalling how the announcement that seniors who drive to school — and purchase parking spaces — could paint them.

“The parking spots were so boring but I wanted to let everyone know this one is mine,” said Kaya as she stood in the mid-day sun — with a heat index of more than 100 degrees — admiring her half-finished paint job.

Participating seniors were allowed to paint during a four-hour window – noon to 4 p.m. – on a recent off school day with no classes due to teachers working on professional development.

Kaya’s space included her painting of the University of Cincinnati logo because she plans to attend the school after graduating from Lakota East.

“Everyone can customize their spaces to their personalities. Everyone is really excited about it,” Kaya said.

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That was one of the goals of the new program, said Lakota East Principal Suzanna Davis.

“This senior parking lot project was brought to us by a group of seniors as an idea to allow them to express themselves in creative ways as well as an activity to bring about unity,” said Davis.

“Allowing students to paint their parking spots is another way to empower student voice and ownership within our school. Students are able to design a parking lot spot in line with their passion and then watch it become a reality leaving their mark on Lakota East,” she said.

“In the initial round, we had 60 students participate. However, we have had many students ask for another opportunity so we are going to open another round up to take place on Sunday, Sept. 16,” said Davis.

Fellow senior Riana Spiller was busy in the sun laying down carefully measured strips of masking tape to form a diamond pattern for her parking space.

“We get to leave our mark on Lakota East, mine is going to be a symbol to shine like a diamond and then I’ll paint senior 2019,” said Spiller.

Davis said the new program is part of an overall plan to expand engagement between the school and its students.

“It was truly exciting to watch seniors, their friends and their family members dedicate time on a staff professional development day to personalizing their high school experience in creative and artistic ways that celebrate the diversity of our students. We look forward to continuing to embrace student voice in our school by finding new and unique ways to partner,” she said.

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