By Isabella Daley
It seems a bathroom would be one of the last places that someone would want to decorate in a school, but McNicholas architecture and ceramics teacher Mel Gaskins has adorned the sophomore hall girls’ bathroom with kind messages and decorations.
Gaskins stuck Post-it notes and vinyl stickers with quotes or positive sayings on the mirrors and stall doors of the bathroom around the end of September and beginning of October.
“We’re just trying to create a positive message to the girls,” Gaskins said.
The idea for decorating the bathroom came to Gaskins when she was watching the news and saw that another school had already done it. Gaskins asked Principal Patty Beckert for permission to recreate the project at McNicholas, and she received more than just Beckert’s approval. Beckert paid for some rolls of vinyl needed to create the stickers with the vinyl machine Gaskins bought at the end of the 2016-17 school year. It took Gaskins over a week to print out all the stickers and another week of decorating the bathroom during her free A bell. “I don’t really care to spend that much time in the bathroom again,” Gaskins said.
In addition to the vinyl stickers Gaskins made and hung up, Gaskins collected sticky notes with encouraging messages and favorite quotes from other female teachers. According to Gaskins, the teachers tried to echo the messages girls hear on the yearly junior retreat, and they “want[ed] the girls to know they’re valued.” She added that the messages were meant to help girls reaffirm themselves with positivity and overcome any struggles they are going through.
Senior Haley Adkins first saw the newly adorned bathroom on several friends’ Snapchat stories and decided to explore it for herself. She was especially fond of the quotes on the stall doors and appreciated the positivity they created. “I thought it was really cool to see everything. Girls go through those struggles,” Adkins said.
Senior Ashely Jenkins shared Adkins’ appreciation of the bathroom decorations and messages. “I love them,” Jenkins said.
Decorating the sophomore hall girls’ bathroom is not the only new way Gaskins has spread positivity during the 2017-18 school year. Using her time and her vinyl machine, she made the rocket window clings for the glass hallway, created the Spirit Can for pep rallies, and hosted craft days for students and teachers to decorate t-shirts, jeans, and scarves. “For me, the machine is to create as much school spirit as much as we can,” Gaskins said.
Gaskins came up with many of the uses for her vinyl machine after she talked with graduating seniors from the Class of 2017 in the spring of 2017. She asked them what they would have liked to have seen different at McNicholas, and she discovered that school spirit was a trend. Over the summer, Gaskins started asking herself “How do you keep creating school spirit?” and she decided to do whatever it would take to help students “feel like they’re part of the community.”
Gaskins hopes to continue spreading school spirit and positivity throughout McNicholas. She said she is considering decorating the girls’ bathroom in senior hall, and she would like to create vinyl stickers for the student tablets that would be both removable and permissible.
The most important hope Gaskins said she has is to be a positive influence in the school, and taking the time to decorate the sophomore hall girls’ bathroom has helped her with that. “I’m happy with the way [it] came out,” Gaskins said.