Colorful walls in the halls |

Colorful walls in the halls

Murals brighten up Steamboat Springs Middle School

Mike Lawrence

A pride of lions fit the theme, but 13-year-old Morgan Cox decided they wouldn’t look as good as Popeye the sailor flashing a “peace” sign.

An eighth-grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School, Morgan was one of many students, parents and volunteers who painted eight colorful murals on hallway walls around the school Saturday. The murals were part of a project put in motion by the school’s Student Council.

Council sponsor and shop teacher Johnny Walker said the group decided on a theme of “Paint it Proud” for the murals, which include sailors “riding the tide of pride” over a wavy ocean, the four seasons in Steamboat Springs, a dignified eagle, an island scene with seahorses and octopi swimming and a “follow your dreams” path of paint-covered footprints inspired by teacher Matt Tredway, who recently began a journey to climb Mount Everest.

Morgan said the inspiration for Popeye, the spinach-guzzling cartoon seafarer, came from the middle school’s sailor mascot — or lack thereof.

“We don’t have an actual, set sailor as our mascot,” Morgan said. “So I just went for it.” Paint–ed on a wall in the sixth-grade wing, Popeye strides forward over an American flag, two fingers aloft in a message of peace.

One of the murals gives a message of remembrance.

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At the end of a hallway near the office of school counselor Margi Briggs-Casson, an orange tiger and a red flower sit in tall grass beneath a palm tree.

The tiger is for Ashley Stamp, a 13-year-old who died in a Dec–ember 2004 snowmobile accident in Vail. The flower is for Travis Taber, a 12-year-old who died in an October 2004 snowmobile accident in the Sandwash Basin near Maybell.

Both students would have been eighth-graders at the middle school this year. “There were tears painting that,” Walker said.

The mural does not contain the students’ names. Walker said it will serve as a memorial for those who remember the students.

“People who don’t know will think it’s a nice piece of art,” he said. “People who do know … it will evoke some emotion.”

“The eighth-graders know what it means,” Morgan Cox said.