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 change.org 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.”