New mural to celebrate Lawrence High’s history and character


Alex Culbertson

The new mural is set to be on this wall and could possibly span all of Louisiana Street.

By Donnavan Dillon, Staff Writer

Walking into Lawrence High, structural changes are obvious. From the more modern open design to interactive study spaces, Lawrence High is a completely new building. However upon further exploration and grey hall after grey wall, it’s quite apparent something is missing from this multimillion-dollar redesign — vibrancy and art.

The Lawrence High construction project began in 2019 and has forgone most of its phases. From blocked-off corridors to portable classrooms the construction has been apparent as it has swept its way across the building. 

With newly painted classrooms covering up old vibrant posters and artwork, Lawrence High has been turned into a primarily greyscale blank slate. Students have described the new color scheme, particularly in the science wing, as dark or cold. 

Watching the building undergo drastic change over the past year and reentering the building after the pandemic has altered the sense of identity, character, and timeliness attached to the building. 

Because of this Lawrence High administration along with the Gould Evans architecture team decided a mural would be the perfect touch to the new building. 

The Mural Project will be unique in many aspects. The mural will be painted in the courtyard and potentially span the length of Louisiana Street.

With the new courtyard space and windows throughout the building, the Gould Evans team wanted the mural to be visible throughout the school as students walk through the building during passing periods. 

“Lawrence High is a place for all students,” said Gould Evans associate Whitney Lang. “It needs to tell a story, we need to engage all students on “non-negotiables” and must represent a wide range of identities.” 

A timeless piece that accurately represents the rich diversity, values, history, and character of Lawrence High is the goal of the project. 

A Mural Committee consisting of administrators, architects, alumni, parents, and two student representatives has been working for the past four weeks on the project.

“The group has been meeting every Thursday after school to brainstorm ideas, interview candidates, and to look at student input,” said senior Hadley Bird, one of the two student representatives on the committee. 

The team started with an initial application pool of four muralists from surrounding areas which, after deliberation, was narrowed down to two. 

Athletic director Nick Woods participates in a discussion about the mural plans with muralist Phil Shafer. (Rachel Krambeer)

After a round of student-led interviews, Kansas City Murtalist Phil Shafer with Sikes Style was selected. His vibrant palette, hidden symbolism, and value of collaboration and inclusivity with his work set him apart from the applicant pool. Shafer has designed murals across Kansas City and recently had work featured at the Super Bowl. 

The Mural Committee team will spend the coming weeks setting up both online and potentially in-person meetings with Shafer and his team.

To include the identities and history of Lawrence Lions both past and present, Phil and his team will be meeting with several different populations to gain inspiration and insight. 

While the mural will most likely be painted during the summer months the project is well underway and students should expect to enter a new more vibrant building come August.