If you have noticed the absence of a once familiar painted wall at Parks Junior High School, it is because it is no longer there.
The mural depicted Parks Junior High’s mascot, a laughing panther, with multiple musical instruments weaving around it. In addition, the wall painting portrayed the East Coast field trips that the students participate in annually. It encompassed the junior high school’s greatest attributes and cherished memories of past and present students.
Parks Junior High School painted over the beloved mural in 2018. The junior high school went through a major renovation prior to the current principal, Laura Makely. Geoff Hecht, a gym teacher at the school, said they painted it over when the renovation took place “which included repairs and redesign both inside and outside.”
Sarah Shanfield, an alumn of Parks Junior High School who made us aware of the missing mural said, “The mural was a gathering place for so many Parks students like myself. We made memories while waiting in front of it for our parents to pick us up and used it as a photo background while we posed in our dresses and suits before we headed in to the dance. Two English teachers used to put a folding table and chairs in front of it everyday while they ate their lunch. It always greeted us when we got to school everyday and it was a friendly visual for the scary times in any tween’s life. For me, in 1999, I loved that it had been designed and painted by someone only a few years older than us at the time, showing us anything was possible.”
The mural was painted by student artist Jasmine Soumakian in 1996.
“In 8th grade, I was asked by Principal Beaver to paint the wall in the front of our school (Parks Jr. High), Soumakian said. “I chose to paint blue people because I wanted to represent ALL students, and wanted to highlight ALL their talents. To think that they (Principal Beaver and Coach Sherry Ringer) believed in a kid that much to paint something that huge, with free creative reign, is amazing. That opportunity completely cemented my life-plan to bring opportunities and build the selfconfidence of other artistic children (via Fibo Art – children’s art schools in OC). I am forever thankful.”
Jasmine Soumakian continues to inspire others with her talent. She is the Founder of Fibo Kids Art Academy in Brea and daughter of Cherene Raphael, the owner of the children’s art school, The Art House.