Thomas Jefferson senior saves locker decorating tradition |
South Hills

Thomas Jefferson senior saves locker decorating tradition

Lydia Shaw smiled as she looked at all of the pictures on her locker angled just right and surrounded by lights.

“It’s everyone that I love on here,” she said.

For the past three years, Shaw, 17, has waited for the day she would be a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School and the underclassmen would decorate her locker to recognize the time she committed to sports and other activities.

But when her senior year rolled around, Thomas Jefferson High School moved from a rundown building into a new $95 million school with brand new lockers. With that, the tradition was put in jeopardy, out of fear that the tape and even glue that had been used in the past would damage the new lockers.

That’s when Shaw stepped up and presented a solution — foam board cut to fit the outside of the lockers with a magnet on the back that could be decorated to recognize seniors without any damage to the building. Money raised from the sales even could be given to charity.

“It’s TJ 2.0 and it’s tradition 2.0. It’s a new way to celebrate your seniors. Not everything has to be the same as it was, as long as we’re improving it and making it better. You don’t want to lose that tradition,” she said.

Even before the school year started, Shaw was at the new school working on another project when she saw the new lockers. Knowing the damage that had come from decorating lockers in the past, she went to work over the summer on coming up with a new design for locker decorations.

“I was trying to think of an idea that wouldn’t involve any tape, because tape is our archnemesis here with lockers,” she said, talking about one time that decorations led to a teacher having to break a locker so it would open. “Kids would use duct tape. There was one instance where a kid used some hot glue. It came off. The glue didn’t, but the poster came off. So that didn’t happen again.”

Shaw created a prototype using a magnet and foam boards the cross country team used last year so students could take their decorated locker designs home or off to college with them as a keepsake.

Principal Pete Murphy said he was thinking about the need to preserve the new lockers for 50 to 60 years and tried to come up with solutions, using digital boards in the school.

The locker tradition was important to students, who even created a petition that garnered nearly 300 signatures in an effort to keep the decorations around.

This is when Shaw decided to approach Murphy with her idea.

“Instead of being sad about it, she decided, ‘Hey, what about a solution,’” he said. “It’s truly what we’re trying to teach kids — to solve real-world problems, being professional, with tact and poise. Everything you would want a kid to learn in school, she applied. It solved the true problem. The problem was, we don’t want our new building to be destroyed.”

Shaw — who runs the student section The Jungle, is on the homecoming court and in three sports — organized the sale of the boards for fall sports and band. She and her dad put together the boards and magnets at home.

Shaw wants juniors take over the duties in the future.

Her classmates were glad to see the tradition continue.

“It was so relieving,” said senior Paige Krupp, 17, who is on the homecoming court and does theater. “It was the biggest weight off of our shoulders. It’s like a reward. To do it for all three years and to spend so much time and effort on these, to get my locker decorated is just a whole different thing.”

Freshman Noelle Narr, 14, helped decorate Shaw’s locker.

“It was really nice and fun to do. All of our friends got together, and we made it for her because she’s fun,” Narr said. “I hope to get one when I’m a senior.”

Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Thomas Jefferson High School senior Lydia Shaw stands for at her locker Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. Shaw saved the longstanding tradion of locker decorating at Thomas Jefferson after school officials banned the use of adhesives when she designed a prototype using foam board and magnets instead of adhesive materials. School officials worried adhesives would damage the lockers in the new high school.
Categories: Local | South Hills
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.