ATHENA - Students at Weston-McEwen High School will be looking up to the Class 2-A Volleyball State Champions for many years to come. Because while the players themselves will graduate and move on with their lives, they are being memorialized in a life-sized mural at the school.

Seniors Kayla Paredes, Darcy Thompson and Jordan Alford, advanced art students, are spending an hour every morning bringing the images of the team to life under the watchful eye of art teacher Nancy Rees Duff.

"I haven't had to lift a brush," Duff said of her students' work. "Other than a little advice, like mixing skin tones, they've done it all themselves."

The young muralists started with a blank board, obtained from and healthily discounted by Lumbermen's of Walla Walla. A photograph of the team is slowly migrating from a sheet of paper to the high-quality wood.

Thompson, Alford and Paredes have had to improvise a bit. To make the students appear life-sized and still fit on the board, the artists had to move them closer together than they were in the photo.

"The skin tones and the hands are the hardest things so far," Thompson said. Both she and Paredes acknowledged that the faces were going to be the hardest of all, however.

The team has been quite critical of the penciled on faces as well as their pallor when they drop by the teachers' lounge to check on the work.

"We told them we'd give them a tan for $5," Thompson said.

The senior artists have also reassured the team that any mistakes made when their faces were sketched will be corrected.

Duff initially thought of the mural for the state champion volleyball players because of the movie "Hoosiers," which shows a mural of that championship basketball team on the gym wall. She said her advanced students allowed themselves to be talked into creating the piece.

"I've always wanted to try something like this," Paredes said.

And what about a companion mural of the state championship girls' basketball team?

"After I finished crying and celebrating when we won, the first thing that came to mind was another mural," Duff said.

That work of art, however, will be left to juniors on the basketball team to create next year. Paredes and Thompson say that they'll be lucky if they finish the volleyball mural before graduation.

Duff said where the mural will be installed has yet to be decided, but the commons and the gym are potential spots.

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