Spreading her wings

Senior Lizzie Marvin sends positive message with Gold Award project


photo by Caitlyn Patel

Senior Lizzie Marvin writes “#IAmBeautiful” in the corner of her butterfly wing mural in the upper house girls’ bathrooms. Marvin intended for girls who take selfies with the murals to post them using the hashtag so she could see what people thought of her project.

Jeannie Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Something is different in the Building 2 and 3 bathrooms. When a student goes to wash her hands and looks in the mirror this school year, she won’t just see her reflection. She will see herself transformed into a beautiful butterfly and message that reads, “You are beautiful.”

Over the summer, senior Lizzie Marvin painted butterfly wings and the positive message on the bathroom walls to earn her Gold Award, an award granted to high school aged Girl Scouts who complete a project to benefit a community. Girls who pursue the award must do ample background research, complete a thorough project proposal, present it to a committee for approval and present again once the project is carried out.

“I have always loved the fact that the girl takes charge and coordinates her own project,” Marvin said.  “I like the idea of feeling like I have made my own difference in my community.”

Marvin started by identifying a community to reach out to, and decided on the school because she would be able to see the immediate impact. She wanted to spread a positive message, but struggled to find a way to convey it.

Painting is something Marvin does in her free time, so she thought about using it to promote positivity through a mural. She considered painting a friendship circle in the courtyard, but decided it would not work logistically.  Last school year, when looking in the mirror in one of the bathrooms, Marvin noticed the big, open space on the wall behind her, and the idea for the butterfly murals began to form.

Marvin set to work making sketches of possible designs.  Before she could break open the paint cans, she had to meet with principal Mary Williams to get the project approved and did so in April. She received approval in the same meeting, and the butterfly design was decided on.

“I was very impressed with her presentation,” Williams said. “The [purpose] is to heighten the self-esteem of the young ladies in our school and remind them that they are all beautiful people and have special qualities.”

After getting approval from Williams, Marvin proposed her project to the Gold Award committee on May 10.  Her project was not initially approved because it did not contain an educational aspect.  Marvin now plans to post information on her project on the school website to meet this requirement.  After amending her project proposal, she began work.

Marvin enlisted the help of several of her friends including seniors Natalie Crawford, Caitlyn Patel, Lauren Leverett, Sabrina Hutcheson and Kaili Morens.

“It was a very creative and unique idea,” Leverett said. “I thought it sounded very Lizzie Marvin-like because she’s such a sweet and thoughtful person.”

Marvin and her helpers spent up to five hours on each mural, visiting the school almost daily between June 14 and June 28. Each time they painted, they had to carry in ladders, paint buckets, drip plates, and stencils in with them. They were also limited in the times they could paint because they could only do it while summer school was going on.

The murals were completed one at a time, each following a specific process.  The stencils Marvin made were taped to the walls and traced, then the inside of each shape was filled in with paint Marvin got a discounted rate from PPG Paints.

The murals made their debut at schedule pickup, and the feedback has been positive, but Marvin still has legitimate concerns about vandalism.  It was part of the reason she and Williams decided to only include the murals in the girls’ bathrooms.

“There’s always a possibility of [vandalism], and I’ll be a little sad, but I won’t take it personally,” Marvin said.

So far, the murals are untouched by graffiti, and Marvin has received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and thankfulness through Twitter and Instagram.

To finalize each mural, Marvin carefully wrote in the corner, “#IAmBeautiful.”  She wanted girls who took selfies with the murals to be able to post them on social media in a way that was easy for her to see.  Marvin also created an Instagram account where she plans to post the selfies as she gets them.

“When people tell me, ‘I like what you’re wearing,’ or, ‘Your hair looks pretty today,’ that makes me feel happy inside and makes me feel confident. I feel like I can do anything you know?” Marvin said. “I want people to be able to have that positive atmosphere with them all the time.”

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