It took 30 gallons of paint, all their study periods and many lunch hours for the past semester, but nine seniors at Archbishop Spalding Senior High School in Severn are ready to put the final touches on a mural in their school chapel.
The 25-by-40-foot mural will be dedicated at a ceremony Friday morning, says the Rev. Andrew Mohl, the school chaplain.
"It's supposed to be along the lines of Creation, with the wateand the land and the sky," says Evan Gilligan, 17, a senior from Pasadena who coordinated the mural work.
Leaves snaking through the mural repeat a motif found in stained-glass windows on the opposite side of the chapel and in a mosaic on the front of the altar.
A stylized sun shines on swirling blues, greens and purples depicting ocean fish and jungle plants.
In the center of the painting grows the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, from the book of Genesis. To its left, a lion awaits the addition of a lamb, symbolizing peace.
To the painting's right, a young couple and their baby are upheld tenderly by three giant hands: one Asian, one black and one white.
Kathleen Legg, 18, of Annapolis, who designed much of the mural, says the image symbolizes the family and unity.
Father Mohl says he asked the students to create the mural "to make them own the chapel, and bring a renewed attention to the chapel."
He says most of the school's religious services take place in the auditorium, which is large enough to accommodate the school's 650 students.
The chapel seats only about 100 people, and although it is open to the students, it has seldom been used.
"Some people didn't know that this [chapel] was down here," Father Mohl says.
"This is probably one of the most infrequently used rooms in the school," Evan agrees.
But that may already be changing.
Linda Mrockowski, assistant maintenance engineer at Spalding, says she has seen students go into the chapel out of curiosity about the mural, but stay for prayer or meditation.
Art teacher Mary Waldhorn helped shepherd the mural to completion.
"This is like a real work situation, in a way," she says. Father Mohl's request was like a commission, and the students had to adapt their design to the ideas of their "client."
The students then had to obtain money for the project, she says.
They received $125 from the Student Government Association and $250 from the parents' association. Olivia and Michael Wist, owners of Bay Country Rentals in Pasadena, donated two weeks' use of scaffolding.
Some parts of the mural needed four coats of paint, because the lines of the original drawing showed through the first coats.
Mrs. Waldhorn says the project taught the students persistence and leadership skills.
"It took a lot of different kinds of people working together," she says.
?3 "It took a lot to get people going," Evan says.