Whether it be through painting, sculpture, drawing, or paper mache, art class is a place that routinely brings joy to high school students.
At Heritage Park High School however, the students have taken their art class as an opportunity to not only bring joy to themselves, but spread it to the community by painting wig stands for those battling with cancer.
The idea for the wig stand project was introduced by HPHS art teacher Kristina Carpenter.
Carpenter’s mother is a member of the Indiana Illinois Kentucky Woodturners, a regional woodworking group. Last fall, the group partnered with Chemo Buddies to provide homemade wig stands to cancer patients.
“The wig stands are meant to be decorated special and unique to the person who is going to receive them, so my mom thought that I might have some student artists who were perfect for the part, and contacted me,” Carpenter said. “I knew immediately that it would be something that my students would be passionate about.”
Starting with a few students, the project quickly expanded to a whole senior class and beyond.
As a member of Carpenter’s art class and president of the Art Club, senior Jacob Dunn dedicated much of his final year at HPHS to the project.
To Dunn, the aim of the project is to let people know that they are not alone.
“It’s just to make them feel that people know and are supporting them through this battle,” Dunn said.
Dunn also spoke of the impact that the project has had on himself. In addition to becoming a very personal project – Dunn’s grandmother is a survivor of three types of cancer – it has also broadened his perspective.
“It has made me more aware of people’s personal battles,” Dunn said. “It could be anxiety, it could be depression, it could be cancer. It has made me very aware and open to any way I can help people.”
Fellow senior Abigail Nicole Dean had a similar perspective to Dunn.
“It makes me really happy and it inspires me to explore the world and help people out,” Dean said.
That inspired spirit is something that Dunn and Dean both plan on taking into the next chapter of their lives as they are part of the 54 students that graduated from HPHS on Tuesday.
Dunn will be going into the workforce and Dean will be studying at Owensboro Community & Technical College with hopes of becoming a teacher.
Dean shared some of her graduation day feelings.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it,” Dean said. “But here I am sitting in these seats, ready to graduate.”
Principal Michelle Ruckdeschel is particularly excited for each graduate’s future.
“Each one of our seniors have their own unique story that led them to our school,” Ruckdeschel said. “We are very proud of their perseverance and the accomplishment of earning their high school diploma. We are excited to see them begin their new adventures and see where the new paths take them.”
On a similar note of perseverance, Dunn gave a final message to his classmates:
“In 12 years we’re going to look back on this and many people are going to reflect on their lives to see if they completed what they wanted. But no matter if you did or you didn’t, you still went through one of the biggest hoops in life and graduated high school.”