Two Norton students have worked to preserve one of legacies, the painted ceiling tiles.
Every year for at least the past three decades, seniors paint a ceiling tile at the school, leaving a little bit of themselves behind for future students to look upon as they stroll through the halls.
But with the impending renovation and addition, the tiles will have to be removed and replaced to make way for new heating and sprinkler systems.
Rob Butler and Jared Marvel, both 18, are digitally preserving the ceiling tiles and murals one by one as their senior project.
The senior project is part of an elective course designed to benefit the community in some way. Butler thought of the project based on a conversation he had with assistant principal Megan Lafayette. He asked her what was going to be done with the tiles after the renovation, and she said she didn't know, and wished someone would preserve them. Butler took on the task with Marvel, who enjoys photography and art.
“The art program has always been a very rich tradition at the high school going back to the 70s or 80s,” said School Building Committee Chairman Kevin O’Neil. “I think it probably started with one art class and became a tradition.”
“Originally it was just in that art room, but it grew and branched out,” Butler added.
When they are finished, the images will be displayed on a flat screen television to be permanently mounted in the cafeteria a year from now when renovations are complete.
“It will be a long loop,” said School Building Committee Chairman Kevin O’Neil. “You can walk in at different times and you’ll never see the same one probably.”
Butler will also create a Facebook page dedicated to the tiles. Current and former students will be able to “tag” photos of their work and share them on the social media site.
“We get to look at a lot of the tiles and you can tell there’s a whole bunch of different personalities,” Butler said. “There’s a good diversity.”
There are about 700 tiles and quite a few murals to boot. But with each one comes a memory. For Marvel, every time he passes by a mural depicting a city skyline from the 2009 senior cruise, he thinks of his sister, Marissa Marvel who helped paint it along with Calley Fisk.
So far Butler and Marvel have uploaded about 1,000 photos and are looking through them all to make sure the tiles and murals have been adequately represented. As of Friday, they only had two more rooms to cover and plan to be finished in two weeks.
Though the project has been a lot to take on, with the two working since the beginning of the semester during their G Period class and sometimes after school, the project means more than class credit to Butler and Marvel.
“It would be awful to see people spend hours on something to be destroyed,” Butler said. “That would not go over well.”
"Now that they are capturing it electronically, it will be around forever. And that's very important," O'Neil said. "If you graduated from Norton High School in the last 34 years that was your contribution when you left as a senior. Now that these guys are capturing that in a permanent form, that's a pretty big deal for the community."
When Butler and Marvel are finished taking photos of the art pieces, alumni are invited to come to the school March 31, 8 a.m. to noon to locate their tile and claim it. The following week it will be returned to them. Tiles not claimed will be stored at the school for a limited time.
Future pieces will also be mounted on a two-story art wall, or in display areas outside of the science wing and auditorium. Every year the art will be collected and changed out.
For more information on how to claim your tile, call the main office at 508-285-0160.