We’ve all heard the jokes (or even made them) about the clean, yet semi-hospital- looking hallways at Marian. It’s true; the Marian Room does feel like an operating room, and there is a noticeable amount of empty wall space on all three floors, but plans are being made to fill these areas with Marian displays.
On Feb. 24, Mrs. Susie Sullivan, Ms. Mary Higgins, Ms. Rochelle Rohlfs, Mrs. Karen Hotz, and Mrs. Susan Rosenlof met to brainstorm how to decorate the hallways of Marian in a thoughtful manner. Their hope is to reflect the mission of Marian in artistic ways throughout the school. Although not committed to any idea in particular, administrators are planning ways in which to creatively mark our Marian territory.
“We went to Creighton to look at how they redesigned the Heider College of Business,” Principal Sullivan said. “We heard good things about it, and so we went to take a look at it for some ideas.” Assistant Principal Rohlfs is planning to tour a few local high schools that have creative displays in their hallways as well. “The architects told us to live in the space for a while after the renovations before putting anything up,” Sullivan said. She said the time has come to drape the walls in Marian spirit and supports the idea of having spirited student photos enlarged around the building.
President Higgins is glad that the administration didn’t rush to fill up the spaces left behind by construction. “We wanted [our hallway designs] to be thoughtful, intentional and beautiful,” Higgins said. She described the planning process as an opportunity to create timeless wall displays across campus and plans to consult members of the Marian community every step of the way, including students. Higgins says the process is still in the early phases of design, but she highlighted a few ideas at the top of her list.
Among the list of ideas is a timeline of the Servants of Mary on the white wall across from the cubbies next to the chapel. Just a few steps away in the Marian room, Higgins would like to see the new and revised mission statement in 3D lettering on the walls. She would also like to connect all members of the Board of Directors to the mission in a visual way and supports adding blue paint to break up the white glare in this particular room.
A few broad display ideas include the evolution of Marian uniforms, an academic Hall of Fame and a place to recognize the faculty who have been honored as Archdiocesan teachers of the year. Marian Girl of the Year and May Queen are also a priority to display, but their locations have yet to be decided.
In the hallway that goes from the upper quad into the senior hallway, Higgins envisions “something lively, some kind of mural that reflects Field Day themes, maybe something that reflects student diversity.” Higgins is willing to explore the possibility of having students paint this mural, but says it will take planning.
Students want to make the most of the blank walls and support the idea of a student-made mural. Senior Emma Gunn said Marian’s physical environment affects her learning experience. “I feel like the lack of decoration/personalization that each class’ hallways used to have really made it feel more like a home-y environment, whereas now it feels very uniform and impersonal.” Gunn is not alone; 73.3 percent of students support the idea of a mural somewhere in the building and 24.4 percent say maybe.
On the same survey, students were asked what they would like to see represented in a mural. Many ideas echoed themes of women empowerment/POC representation, relationships that form at Marian, different Marian traditions, gratitude for teachers and equality among all students regardless of race, sexual orientation, and age.
Marian is a vibrant community with a rich history full of artists, leaders and undeniably remarkable women. However, what is obvious to Crusaders isn’t automatically clear to the curious parents and prospective students who walk through the entrance to senior hall. The administration wants these visitors to see the Marian spirit on full display and so do students.
The administration made it clear that these changes won’t take place all at once due to the expenses and time commitment, but would like for some displays to be installed this upcoming summer. “We want to make the most of the opportunity we have,” Higgins said.