A cluster of students could be seen on top of Shadow Mountain just as the sun was breaking over the horizon. Some brought blankets, folding chairs and even breakfast up the trail while they waited for the sun to come up.
“It felt like being together up there, we were all connected,” said Alyx Colburn, one of the seniors who participated in the back-to-school festivities. “We’ve been together for three years already, and now it’s almost over. Getting to see everyone after such a long summer was nice, and I think this is going to be a good year.”
The parking spaces, filled with the art and splatters of teenage expression, go on a first-come, first-served basis. The memories of seniors past were covered with the fresh paint of the 2010 class. The seniors who hoped to get a desirable spot near the school doors camped out overnight to reserve their parking space.
Cassie Moore saved her spot by parking her truck there the night before. She painted a leafy tree onto a sky-blue background in her stall. Her friends helped by putting their hand prints at the bottom and signing their names.
“I don’t have that much artistic ability,” Moore said with a laugh. “So I chose something I could draw that still expresses me.”
The tradition is about catching up with friends and getting back into the school spirit. Some students who don’t have cars still came to senior sunrise to see their classmates and offer a steady paint-brushing hand.
“I thought this would be a great way to start out the senior year,” Jessica Carling said. “You can hang out with friends, catch up after the summer and it’s just a part of senior tradition.”
The approaches to painting a parking spot were plenty. Students came armed with cans of paint, spray paint, brushes, sponges, rollers and stencils. Despite being well-prepared, the process can get a little messy.
“We kept throwing paint all over one another!” Carling said, showing her hands, which had been dipped in a paint bucket. More paint ended up on her clothes than on the ground.
Being covered in paint seemed to be the norm, because everyone in sight appeared to be splotched with a rainbow of colors. During the latter part of the event, the seniors discussed the best way to remove paint from skin. The recommendations ranged from paint thinner to good old fashioned scrubbing.
As the morning grew hot, the parking lot started to clear out. Trash cans were piled high with painting supplies. Many of the students left to go out to breakfast and celebrate the start of a new year. Others went home to go back to bed, clinging to the remaining days of summer.
“You only get one senior year,” Moore said. “Might as well live it up!”