New Tech students paint spaces

August 19, 2017
Temple Daily Telegram

About 30 students at Belton New Tech High School @Waskow turned out Saturday morning to decorate their parking spaces.

The students were spread out on the parking lot west of North Blair Street, amidst paint buckets, brushes, rollers and other equipment. Some of them were partially shaded by canopies, and cooled by fans connected to long extension cords.

Abby Polchinski dabbed a paintbrush on her parking space, themed “Live in Harmony.”

“I’m just a very peaceful person,” she said.

One side of her space has sun rays, she said, and the other has stars.

The idea is that in spite of diversity, “we can all come together and live in harmony,” she said.

She also planned to paint her name on the parking space, she said. She wants to become a lawyer, and is working on college preparation.

She and her friend, Celia Bowen, had painted for more than two hours and said they thought they would finish in another hour. Bowen said she wants to be a music major.

Gloria Wetherbee, a junior, taped guidelines across her parking space.

“I had to wait for my paint,” she said. “I’m going to do a “Star Wars” theme spot,” she said. “But it will say, ‘This is Gloria’s space.’ I’ve watched ‘Star Wars’ and enjoyed it quite a while.”

She wants to go into graphic design and marketing, she said. This summer she went to a video design camp in Seattle with the University of Washington.

“It kind of confirmed that’s what I want to do as a career,” she said.

Her mother, Vicki Wetherbee, secretary of the Parents, Teachers and Students Organization, said it was the PTSO’s first year to coordinate the parking space painting event. Reserving a spot for one year costs $30. The funds garnered are used for student attendance incentive and teacher appreciation, she said.

“This has been a record year—a record turnout,” she said. “I think it’s fostering community among the students, plus creativity of course. These kids are all creative anyway at New Tech. That’s why they’re here.”

Volunteers prepared the parking lot a couple of weeks ago, she said. They used blowers to clear the dust, and painted over the previous artwork.

“Last night we came out and blew the dust off,” she said.

Becky Burrow watched her daughter, Savannah, a New Tech senior, work on her parking space, which had a lot of shade. Savannah is in the Belton High School band, and was doing a “Marching Hundred” theme. Her pencil sketch showed a treble clef and a trumpet.

Principal Ben Smith said the various themes reflected the students’ academic or extracurricular interests. The New Tech students are very involved in extracurricular activities at BHS, he said. More New Tech students will participate in another painting day on Sept. 16.

“They get excited about it, and they get to make it their own,” he said.

New Tech, which has about 530 students, is a project-based learning campus, he said. All students take the core classes, he said, but each student has a laptop computer, and is offered two career and technology pathways, he said.

“Our kids don’t learn in a traditional classroom,” he said. “The teacher gives them a topic.”

The students do research in groups, and individually present the final product, he said. “Our students have to write and present orally in every class,” he said.