Parking with personality


Photo by Bethany Brown.

This previously ran in our September 2021 print issue.

In the final weeks of summer, the seniors of Emmaus high school received an announcement for their first fundraiser of the year: an opportunity to paint their own parking spots.

A sense of community had been missing from Emmaus following the year spent learning online. The senior class officers were trying to find a way to reconnect students and reintroduce everyone to normalcy. Listening to past suggestions from students, senior officers brainstormed different ways to integrate this idea with a fundraiser, as options were limited in the past years for raising money. 

The idea to paint parking spots has lingered around the school for a couple of years, but it has never been carried out. This year under the special circumstances, everyone was even more compelled to make it happen, attempting to rediscover the bonds lost during the remote year, according to senior class president Jenna McGinnis.

“They were very understanding of the fact that we have not had any community in the past two years at the school,” she said. “This was something that could bring us together.”

In the past, the class has tried selling chocolates, t-shirts, and having fundraiser nights at local businesses. While some students participated, it was difficult to promote and have students follow through. Justine Frantzen, the advisor to the class of 2022, thought the idea to paint spots would also be a fresh change in the typical fundraisers, one that would actually get students involved.

“I think people are tired of buying little things from catalogs, so I found this and I just thought it looks like a lot of fun … It was a great spirit activity too. Good money, good fun,” Frantzen said. 

To keep everything in line, the organizers created a contract outlining specific rules and guidelines for the day in order to preserve the lot for future use. Only water-based latex paint was permitted, there had to be a six-inch border to preserve the white lines, and all designs have to be kept on file. After getting their parking spot design approved, students paid a $30 fee before painting, which went towards coverup costs and money for the senior class. McGinnis thought the event would not only be a good way to roll money in, but also a way to reunite students with one another for their last year. 

“It was a fundraiser for prom and other senior events we want to do like that, and it also brought the kids together,” McGinnis said. “I’m sure some kids that wouldn’t necessarily hang out with each other are painting spots around each other and will see each other every morning and afternoon now.” 

Organizing the painting event posed a number of logistical problems for the officers. They questioned how many people would even go, what to do with the spots at the end of the year, and how expensive the total cost would end up being. However, creating a concrete plan was the key to making this fundraiser successful in the eyes of both Dr. Kate Kieres and the facilities team at the school.

“Dr. Kieres was so supportive, and we just needed to make sure that we had a clear plan [so] that we could try to get ahead of any possible problems so that when it was taken to the head of the grounds… all of those questions were answered ahead of time,” Frantzen said. 

Over 100 students took to the parking lot on Aug. 10 for the first painting session, ready with gallons of paint and rollers. After working for four hours, the parking lot was left decorated with a vast array of designs, from smiley faces to a Monopoly board and everything in between. 

Senior Ben Peterson decided to take part in the painting, and mark his spot in the senior lot. 

“It was a nice day outside, there was a really nice cloud cover and a good environment to be around your friends that you hadn’t seen for a long time,” Peterson said. “It was more of a social event really for me, and the painting was just something to do.”

To allow for all students who had hoped to paint a spot to participate, a second painting date had been set for Sept. 8 but has since been rescheduled to two seperate dates: Sept. 25 and Sept. 30. In addition to the students planning on painting for the first time in September, some students who had painted in August will be coming back for the second date to add the finishing touches to their spot.

At the end of the year, the parking lot will be painted over, turning the lot into a blank slate once again. After seeing the success of this year’s event, McGinnis hopes that this can be a tradition to be passed down to future classes at Emmaus. 

“It’s up to their officers whether they do it or not, but I know they’re definitely interested,” McGinnis said. “Our class was the guinea pigs to see whether or not it was successful, and so far we haven’t heard anything wrong– it’s been all good reviews. So, hopefully the classes can keep this up.”

Despite the fact that this was the first year Emmaus students have painted parking spots, senior Abby Hark expresses that it ended up being a memorable experience for the class of 2022. 

“I really enjoyed painting my parking spot with friends and it was a great way to start off our senior year,” Hark said. “I love how the painted space can express something about us and last with us as we go throughout the year.”

Abby Hark: 

Abby Hark grabbed a hold of this opportunity to artistically express herself for who she is. As a swimmer on Emmaus’s Girls Swim Team, she designed her parking spot to look like a lane of a swimming pool with the words “Senior Year, Dive In” on top.

“I thought that painting [my spot] to look like a pool would be a cool thing that tells about me,” says senior Abby Hark. “I wanted it to say ‘Senior Year, Dive In’ because I thought the ‘dive in’ part could encourage us all to work hard our senior year.”

Ben Peterson: 

Ben Peterson wanted to find a design that encompassed his personality. He ran through different ideas, considering inspiration from his Swedish heritage and an animal he has been drawing all his life: a walrus. 

“Most of the people there were drawing and painting things that were meaningful to them,” Peterson said. “I just was struggling to come up with something that was actually something I identified with, and those two main things are Sweden and walruses.”

Summer Lorincz:

Summer Lorincz’s family has been living the “Jeep life” for over 20 years, and her spot pays tribute to her love for them. Also wanting to incorporate her love for the beach, Lorincz was able to create a design that embodied two of her loves.

“I decided to do a beach theme so I  painted the background blue and then painted a palm tree and did the Jeep symbol,” Lorincz said. “My family has had Jeeps for 20 years, and me, and my sister, and my mom have one… I thought the painting idea was super fun and other classes should definitely do it.”