An Inspiring Legacy


Art teacher Dawn Schmidt begins painting a knight on the first-floor hallway of Rice Memorial High School in January 2023. (Photo/Hannah Cunningham)

Hannah Cunningham, Editor-In-Chief

Albert Einstein, Katherine Johnson, and a Rice Knight have recently added color to Rice Memorial High School’s hallways.

Last year Schmidt began the project to paint murals representing each academic department. She mentioned it to art club members and got a head start by painting the Albert Einstein mural over the summer. It grew into a community event as students walking by began helping paint. Members of the basketball team assisted with the hard-to-reach portions.

Schmidt’s motivation behind the mural was simple. “You look down the hall and everything is gray, white, olive green,” she said. “There’s no color.”

Now, with the murals on the walls, student, Gabby Sneddon said, “When I walk through the hallway, the pop of color from the murals brightens my day ”

Murals in the Rice hallway. February 2023. (Photo/ Giles Heilman)

Additionally, these pieces integrate art into academics.

“I think it’s important for the school to have murals because it educates others on the important figures that have contributed to the development of our culture,” Jessica Tran, a member of the art club, said. “I’d never heard of Katherine Johnson before the mural, and it was fun getting to know more about her and her achievements.”

Schmidt plans to display an informational section alongside each influential figure.

Members of the art club Camryn Benner, Jessica Tran, Lauren McCabe and Dawn Schmidt in front of the Katherine Johnson mural. December 2022. (Photo/Megan Shrestha)

These murals demonstrate a growing incorporation of arts at Rice.

Junior Camryn Benner talked about students’ response to the artwork saying, “I love how supportive our Rice community is about these new murals. Whenever teachers and staff, plus multiple students, pass by they make sure to thank us for our efforts and encourage us about what a wonderful job we are doing. Hearing this support and encouragement reminds me of what a special community that we have at Rice.”

She also described the growing emphasis on the arts. “My freshman year the arts were very limited, but through sophomore and now junior year I have noticed the arts taking a larger role in the school.”

Eight-year teacher Mike Mazzella agreed. “A few years back, I’d say they’d hit their rock bottom,” he said, “and what we’ve seen is a growth…it makes people more comfortable coming to Rice–it’s us saying we offer things to everybody.“

Beyond this, however, the murals give the school personality and inspire with their historical significance.

“I’d love to have that kind of a legacy that I leave behind,” Schmidt explained. A legacy of arts in education that will outlast us all.