Tigard High Key Club members brighten space for seniors

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Elizabeth Cvetic has been painting for 60 years, and said that the large mural in the Tigard Senior Center has already brought new energy to the space. The room was previously called the dungeon.For years, the small windowless classroom at the Tigard Senior Center has been known simply as “The Dungeon.”

But seven teenagers are working to change that image with a new mural they hope to unveil by the end of the month.

For the past month, the students — members of Tigard High School’s Key Club — have been designing and painting the large mural, bringing the woodland and seaside of Oregon into the Senior Center to lift spirits.

“Aren’t they good?” asked Elizabeth Cvetic, an art teacher at the Senior Center during a work day last week. “I am tickled,” she said. “I am just really pleased.”

Cvetic, who has taken classes at the Senior Center for years and teaches an art class every Monday, said the room was often cramped and dreary before the girls came along.

“It was horrible,” said Cvetic, who is helping to oversee the project. “Without any windows, you feel all closed in.”

The room is already much brighter and cheerier, Cvetic said, thanks to the girls’ depictions of several iconic Oregon landscapes, including Mt. Hood, the Oregon Coast and a forest spreading across two of the classroom’s walls.

“And these bright spots are going to be hot-air balloons flying overhead,” said Cvetic. “When it’s done, it will be so colorful, with reds and yellows and greens and purples and blues. It will be good.”

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jessie Li, a member of Tigard Highs Key Club leadership team, mixes paint for a large mural at Tigard Senior Center.The students are all members of Tigard’s Key Club, a group of students who perform community service projects in the Tigard-Tualatin area. Club members have helped seniors hang Christmas lights each witner, worked at local food banks and volunteer with the Special Olympics.

The group was approached by the Senior Center in February about designing a mural for the center, said senior Angela Tran.

“They asked if we could do something to brighten up the place,” she said. “It took a while to get a leadership team together, but then we started talking about it and began painting in the beginning of August.”

Using donated materials from Miller Paint, the students get together for work days several times a month.

Kayla Saldana, 17, spent last Friday painting the Mt. Hood National Forest.

“I didn’t think it was going to be this big,” she admitted, looking at the mural. “When I first saw it, I was like ‘Holy cow.’ But it’s fun, I don’t regret it.”

Saldana is one of the few girls in the group with artistic training. A member of the National Art Honor Society, Saldana has taken several art courses at Tigard High.

“This is my first time doing anything like this, though,” she said. “This is good for me.”

To accommodate the girls’ experience, Cvetic originally planned a simpler mural of trees, but said the students stepped up to a more challenging idea right away.

“Look at her go,” she said, gesturing to one girl. “You have all done so well.”

Cvetic said the mural has already had an effect, even though it isn’t finished.

“There was supposed to be a Spanish class in here today, but they were displaced because we were painting,” Cvetic said. “I asked if it was OK, and the teacher said, ‘For this? It’s worth it.’ That was a good comment to hear.”

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