QCS Photo: Kevin Wilson
Andrea Garcia puts the finishing touches on her painting on Sixth Street Tuesday morning at Tucumcari High School.
With spare paint and brushes and a black canvas that stretched a city block, Tucumcari High School’s outgoing seniors made one of their final marks on the place they’re preparing to leave behind.
A long-standing Rattler tradition continued Tuesday morning as seniors spent a little more than three hours painting their names on the stretch of Sixth Street between Hines Avenue and Tucumcari Boulevard.
The names will stay alongside similar designs from the class of 2005, which painted the designs along Hines, between Fifth Street and Seventh Street.
About a month before graduation every year, one of the two roads is resurfaced to create a new painting surface for the current crop of seniors — Hines Avenue during odd years, Sixth Street during even years.
No parents or students at Tuesday’s event knew exactly when the tradition of painting the road started, but said the process started along the two respective streets sometime in the mid-1970s.
David Hale, a 1971 THS graduate, joked that it was a tradition for he and his senior classmates to paint their names on Seventh Street alongside Rattler Stadium, but it was considered vandalism back then and “the level of artistry was somewhat diminished.”
Now, David got to watch son Drew finish off a multi-colored design that referred to the student council secretary as Drew “The Schnoz” Hale.
Student Body President Clay Beevers said he wanted a design “visible by satellite imagery” when he used 24 feet to identify himself in orange block letters, while Shane Vigil tried to combine patriotism with school spirit on a design with red, white, blue, purple and gold letters.
Others opted less for size and more for design as the hours went by. Andrea Garcia was such an example, taking numerous steps in finishing off a small but elaborate blue-green dragon.
“It’s just my thing,” Garcia said of the dragon idea.
“Everybody knows me by it.”
Garcia, who had considered several art schools before deciding on New Mexico Tech, also helped create designs for fellow seniors with chalk outlines, then would come help them paint while parts of her creation dried.
Some, like Kevin Garza, decided to remind next year’s THS students of one of his favorite senior accomplishments.
“I just wanted to do this because I was homecoming king this year,” Garza said of the gold crown, outlined by purple.
Others chose to use their message to talk about their futures, like Stephanie Burns. Burns originally started with rounded lime green letters and a pink flower to represent the “I,” but later added polka dots and the Texas Tech logo and change the flower’s color to match Texas Tech’s color scheme.
“It evolved,” Burns said.
The event is one of numerous senior week activities, leading up to Friday’s 7 p.m. graduation at Rattler Gymnasium.