STEM Meets Art
Lots of thought and sweat went into this mural designed and painted by Raisbeck Aviation High School’s Class of 2020—the first class selected by lottery rather than an admissions selection process. Raisbeck Aviation alums Kayla Tran (UW) and Brigitta Nguyen (UC Berkeley) describe why the mural came to be, the lightbulb moment, and how ASB officers and other students took turns to finish painting it this summer after COVID hit, wearing masks and maintaining distance from each other.
It all stemmed from the question, “What is Raisbeck Aviation High School really about?” The answer starts with memories that grow into dreams and take flight on the wings of opportunity and a sense of community.
Here is the story in their words:
Kayla: “Last spring, I and another ASB senior senator, Amrit Singh, started brainstorming and consulting our class advisors about what our Class of 2020 gift to the school should be. Mr. (Scott) McComb suggested painting a mural on the giant gray shipping container that had been added on the campus for school clubs to use for storage. ASB and our school administration approved the idea.
Originally we wanted to focus solely on aviation. We considered the theme of aviation past, present and future, but we had no idea how the industry would progress at this point.
With the school now a lottery school, we thought of spotlighting the diversity that the lottery system encourages. Students of more ethnicities are now able to dream the same dream as their peers in an environment that will support them.
We turned to two of our most talented artists, both seniors, ASB Art Director Brigitta Nguyen and Davie Anne Ross, to create a vision and design the mural."
Brigitta: "Davie Anne suggested the idea of community be represented in the mural and that it be student oriented.
As I was brainstorming about what the mural could look like, I sought inspiration by reading stories about Boeing employees. I also thought of the inclusive and diverse community I am a part of in RAHS.
The 'lightbulb' moment hit me when I recalled memories of how aviation showed up in my life.
I remember my parents bringing me to my first Blue Angels Seafair Show as a child. Hundreds of people were setting up picnics, tents or chairs as my family tried to find a spot to sit. A cheerful buzz permeated the atmosphere as people chatted about the show that was about to happen. When the show started, I recall my heart racing at the loud rumbles of the Blue Angels as they zoomed in and out of sight, and the wide grins on my mother and father's faces as their eyes followed the aircraft.
Another memory surfaced of stories that former Boeing CEO, Mr. Phil Condit, shared during my Pathfinder Gala internship: witnessing his grandfather's first flying lesson at San Carlos Airport, his family visits to San Bruno to gaze at the airplanes that flew overhead when he was young, and seeing Boeing employees lifting up their children to touch the belly of the 777 at its rollout.
This was when I knew what image I wanted to portray in the mural.
I sketched and designed the mural, keeping in mind the huge dimensions of the storage container, while making sure the mural would show the diversity of the aviation community I've seen at RAHS, the passion of people watching a Blue Angels airshow and the same sense of togetherness Mr. Condit saw and felt in the industry.”
I tried to capture the long lasting passion and awe of aviation within the older generations, the budding wonder of aviation in younger generations and the sense of community that unites people of all ages, genders and cultures under one industry. I hope that when people look at this mural, they will be able to remember the first memories that founded their thrill and love for the aviation community.
I would like to thank all the teachers and staff for their strong support on this project, as well as all the RAHS students (Kayla Tran, Theresa Tran, Vincent Tran, Mia Baukol, Leah Mathew, Tija Faler, Andreah Elvira and Tiffany Dinh) who I worked with to paint the mural from start to end. Your contributions made the mural come to life, and I am sincerely grateful for everything you've done for this project."
"I see this mural as how it all started for us. Some students will look at this mural and think, "That's how I fell in love with aviation."
"Many dreams start with a memory or experience from childhood. I feel like this mural will remind students why they're at RAHS, why they chose aviation—even for those who don't truly have a path yet. I hope that they see this mural and travel back to their beginning and find their "why" in life.
Once Brigitta finalized the design, we met up to buy paint and supplies with our ASB Advisor Mrs. Fitz (RAHS Teacher Sarah Fitzpatrick Erdmann).
Other ASB officers and students volunteered to help finish this project. I love them to death for this because we needed a lot of painters to get this done quickly.
The storage container was so big that people could work on different parts without being too close. Our initial idea was to plug in a projector to trace the design onto the container, but it was too bright outside. So, the entire mural was painted by hand and eye. I think this is part of what makes it appealing--our own school artists designed and created it.
I am proud of the Class of 2020 and that we were able to leave a special mark on this school using art.
While we were painting this mural, travelers from Atlanta, Georgia, on their way to the Arctic Circle, stopped by to see the Museum of Flight. Sadly, the museum was closed, but they stopped to admire the mural and asked about its background.
One of the visitors aspired to be a flight instructor. It hit me that people from all over the nation with different backgrounds and interests in aviation could see this painting, which faces out toward the museum, and in some way connect to it as well.”