Since the start of the school year, Genoa Middle School seventh-graders Sydney “Sam” Lisi-Huber and Madison “Lennon” Daniels have spent much of their free time in the sixth-grade girl’s bathroom.
Before the start of school and during their art period, the two have committed to covering the walls with bright artwork and positive messages, creating a welcoming space for their younger peers.
“I wanted something vibrant to lighten their mood,” said Lisi-Huber, who approached art teacher Juls Rathje and Principal Scott Gaddis about painting quotes and designs on the walls. She was inspired after someone had taken a similar approach to Genoa’s seventh-grade bathroom.
Rathje was impressed by Lisi-Huber’s initiative and discussed designs with her before Lisi-Huber presented them to Gaddis for his approval. She then connected Lisi-Huber with Daniels to help with the project.
“It’s awesome to watch her as it has been developing,” Rathje said. “It started as a small couple of quotes and now it’s grown into all the walls are going to be covered.”
The students launched the project in August and already their work has started to take shape.
A rainbow and a sprinkle of red mushrooms line the bottom of the entry walls of the bathroom. Those walking into the space are greeted with a quote painted in bright colors: “Your future is created by what you do today not tomorrow.” Hearts mark the doors to each stall and a green painted curtain frames the bathroom mirror.
Several designs have been etched in pencil to be painted, including the phrase, “Love Yourself,” above the sink.
Both students said the project has given them purpose, something to look forward to each day.
“We want to give sixth-graders a welcoming spot and help them feel more comfortable in their surroundings,” Daniels said.
Before the start of school on Tuesday, Daniels dedicated time painting the head of a mushroom while Lisi-Huber put the finishing touches on a rainbow at the bottom of the wall. As Lisi-Huber stood to examine her work, a student passing by marveled at their progress.
“This is amazing,” she told Lisi-Huber. “Is this going to happen in every bathroom?”
Lisi-Huber smiled: “I’m not sure.”
But it’s something she’d like to see happen.