The Great Wave of Seniority

During the two week, relaxing winter break, many of us lounged on the couch beside the fireplace. Meanwhile, on the presumed deserted CB campus, Josh Elboom (’22), Kenna Lafitte (’22), and Charlie Turner (’22) were designing the infamous senior landmark: the senior wall. Painting hour after hour, the three artists perfected the piece that catches […]

During the two week, relaxing winter break, many of us lounged on the couch beside the fireplace. Meanwhile, on the presumed deserted CB campus, Josh Elboom (’22), Kenna Lafitte (’22), and Charlie Turner (’22) were designing the infamous senior landmark: the senior wall.

Painting hour after hour, the three artists perfected the piece that catches eyes from across the main lawn to the 200s balcony. Yet most of us don’t realize just how much effort goes into making the mural — past sacrificing precious nap time.

All three seniors are part of the four year art program here at CB and have always had a passion for art. “I always did summer camps that had to do with paintings and ceramics, and then when I came to CB, I discovered the [program],” shared Kenna.

“I would naturally find myself more interested in the artistic aspect of projects and assignments,” Josh described as he attempted to track where his love of art traces back to. On top of those core classes of the art program, Josh was the first CB student to win the cover poster contest for the Sacramento County Academic Decathlon back in 2020. Plus, his work has been showcased in the La Salle Art Show every year since 2018 and, of course, in the display cases around campus.

Even as a kid, art was too a constant interest for Charlie, “My parents turned a spare room in our house into an ‘art room’ and that’s pretty much where I went to play with my friends.”

The passion and motivation were clearly there. I’m also part of the four year art program, but I couldn’t imagine putting that much of my time in addition to the seven jam-packed classes.

Luckily, the supportive art teacher Mrs. Christine Kerr eased those concerns. “Mrs. Kerr allowed us to work on the mural in place of a portfolio piece so we got whole block periods to collaborate and paint,” revealed Kenna with a smile. Or with relief.

Along with Mrs Kerr’s valuable feedback, cheering spirit, and “funky Friday” music playlist, Senior Class Moderators Mrs. Annie Vanenburg and Mrs. Erin Hanshew and the Senior Class Council facilitated the logistics. Student council chooses the prompt and the students of Honors Painting and Drawing are invited to submit proposals for the mural designs which are discussed at a meeting between the two groups.

“This year, [the prompt] is ‘Spread Your Wings’,” stated Mrs. Vanenburg, claiming that the slogan was fitting for this year”s graduating class.

The mural is used for merchandise, yearbook, and viewing pleasure, meaning maintaining some timeline is essential. “By Open House, we try to get started working on it and we aim to finish it by the end of the first semester,” Mrs. Hanshew explained regarding the rough deadlines.

But, why take on the senior wall?

The senior wall is a tradition that has gone on for so long, it’s hard to pinpoint when it began. “I started working here in 1994 and there was a senior wall, so some time before that,” Assistant Dean of Student Life Mrs. Cecilia Powers examined.

“It’s been going on way before I was here and this is my 19th year!”, exclaimed Mrs. Vanenburg. I guess that’s a mystery that only the retired legend Mr. Thomas English would be able to share.

For faculty, the senior mural is a symbol of the graduating class and a contribution back to CB. “It’s community building,” both Mrs. Hanshew and Mrs. Vanenburg agreed.

For the artists, the wall was a milestone for their last year in high school and a way for them to express their gratitude toward the school.

“I always liked watching [the seniors] paint the wall when I was an underclassman, but I never actually thought I would be the one to work on it,” admitted Kenna. Yet, as a devoted member of both Senior Class Council and the art program, Kenna often found herself acting as the middle-woman, “I was relaying messages to the class from the council so I was definitely involved from the start.”

Mrs. Kerr first approached her veteran student with the leadership opportunity of the mural, “I said I would be willing to lead and direct as much as possible, but thankfully Kenna and Charlie helped out and dealt with my bossiness,” Josh laughed. “I already had ideas written down from April of the year before,” he revealed as he explained his eagerness when Mrs. Kerr first brought up plans for the wall of August this year.

Per Mrs. Kerr’s recommendation, the artists turned to album covers for inspiration, “I was going through skydivers, flying squids, and penguins…which did not get accepted,” Josh sighed as he described what led him to favoring a Japanese impression for the mural. Kenna especially looked toward artists like FINNEAS and his single “Claudia” for ideas which led her to the butterfly design. Between each of their proposals for council, Kenna’s butterfly concept and Josh’s attribution of The Great Wave off Kanagawa were combined for the final design.

Beyond their artistry, these seniors are also part of the CB volleyball teams. This meant the beginning months of the mural overlapped with the girls’ fall season, leaving spring volleyball star Josh to work around their schedule. As the lead, Josh would always be present when the mural was worked on, even if his partners were gone for practice.

Nonetheless, they made sure to find time. “We were all willing to come after school and stay multiple hours even if we had homework which shows #committment,” Josh mentioned as he explained how complicated and time consuming the wall could be at times. He went on to admit to occasional conflict and clashing of differing ideas among the team, but what can’t be accomplished with a little #compromise?

Already good friends before the endeavor, Josh, Kenna, and Charlie were able to grow closer as they successfully collaborated and built off each other’s experience. Along with the named primary artists, Sophia Mercado (’22) provided additional help with the mural as a fellow student in Honors Painting and Drawing. All agreed that working on such a large canvas was new and, though a bit intimidating at first glance, it was the support from classmates and staff that kept them motivated.

“I love it — I love the design. I know Josh wanted to put a penguin on it and [student council] said no,” laughed Mrs. Vanenburg as she shared her interpretation of the mural. I sure would’ve loved to see a penguin on that boat!

But for Mrs. Vanenburg, there is a deeper significance behind the butterfly, “You’ve been underwater for so long, but now you get to come out of that water,” she told me as she compared the butterfly emerging from the wave as the Class of 2022 growing from the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Even once the wall is painted over and we’ve shed our cap and gowns, Josh, Kenna, and Charlie will treasure and remember this experience as they go on to pursue art-related careers. “Whether its through marketing or promoting art, businesses, or fashion, I hope to find an intersection between [business and art],” shared Kenna. Kenna and Charlie currently run the fashion club at CB and Charlie plans to attend Belmont University in Nashville for fashion design. As for Josh, he plans to major in Graphic Design or Visual Communications, in hopes of working on game graphics and company promotions.

As the seniors sign the wall and order their senior mural sweatshirts, the Class of 2022 pays a big thanks to these zealous artists as CB beholds another beautiful mural to commemorate the ambitions of the graduating class. Maybe, even one of the best…

Your play, Class of 2023.

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