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OC Catholic: "Parking Lot Art at JSerra"

OC Catholic reporters Spencer Grant and Mara Casey wrote a special piece about this year's Senior Parking Paint Spot Day -- a special senior tradition that jump-starts their final year of high school.


Photos by Spencer Grant/Diocese of Orange

For the past 12 years, incoming seniors at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano have participated in Senior Parking Lot Day -- decorating their dedicated parking spots with art of their own making. Current themes ranged from works by author J.R.R. Tolkien to others honoring the animated dad, Homer Simpson.

"It's a great way to kick off the year," explained JSerra Activities Director Emily O'Berry.

The Aug. 6 event began with the traditional Senior Sunrise, which featured breakfast prior to students heading out to paint. There are 183 parking spaces on campus and 243 seniors, but some are in zero period sports, so they park across the street.

Canopies partially shaded the senior artists from the summer heat that dried their water-based paints quickly. The first step was a single-color undercoat for background. When that was dry, the detailing began.

"The students with the most intricate designs are probably in our arts magnet program," said O'Berry. "These are kids who are highly developed in the art area. It could be painting, graphic design -- even broadcast journalism. They're very talented."

Student Sofia Roy chose an abstract design she called "Tie Dye."

"It's a pink and purple swirl," she explained, "and afterwards I'm going to put my friends' handprints at the bottom. Since I'm in the 2023 class, I'm going to put 2023 in there too."

She added, "It's a senior tradition -- I love it! The best part of being a senior is having your own space and being able to customize it."

Sarah Freeman chose a motif from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings involving a lot of orange. Her mother Geri was there to observe.

Sarah Freeman chose The Lord of the Rings as the theme for her space.

"She's looking forward to her last year of school. I'm the mom, here to support her in any way I can," she said.

Dads also came to help. Fred Peguero watched his son Mateo sketch out a movie monster caricature in his space suit while Paul Savage assisted daughter Alana with her minions inspired project, "Savage Island".

Being born in Hawaii, Alana explained, "I saw this Hawaiian minion everywhere, so I thought it was a great idea for my parking spot."

Hannegan Shaughnessy chose a marble design for her parking spot.

"It's going to be very earthy and swirly," she said. "I got the idea from Pinterest."

This day, every senior looked to be a future college art major. Stencils were positioned and borders were taped off. Sofia Roy used a battery-powered hair dryer to complete a second layer of her swirly opus while Carmeron Ricciardi put the finishing touches on a constellation of donuts framing Homer Simpson -- "His favorite food," he explained.

Cameron Ricciardi works on Homer Simpson.

It was a day to gather as a community but also a day for creativity and individualism in art -- as personal as the future visions of the JSerra students poised to begin their senior year.