If walls could talk
Mural celebrates 40th anniversary
November 2, 2020
Editor’s note: This story was named an excellent news story in the 2021 TAJE Best of Texas contest. It also won honorable mention for news stories in the Press Women of Texas high school journalism contest.
The school’s successful history isn’t a secret on campus. When walking through the hallways, dozens of past trophies and awards sit lined up in rows within large display cases. Every year a sports program made it into a regional or state final is visible on large white signs directly above.
But none of the trophies capture the school’s first year. Edward S. Marcus, who the school was named after, remains a complete mystery to most students. Principal William Skelton has a plan to change that. He wants students to graduate knowing the school’s early history.
To fix this, a mural of the original 1981 campus will be installed between the main office and the front entrance doors by Dec. 21 to commemorate the school’s 40th anniversary.
Skelton came up with the idea to place multiple murals around the building. This art will cover the entirety of the school’s past with details of prominent people and events.
“We want our students to learn a little bit about the history so that they can feel connected to the campus and our community, but also that they can just have that Marauder pride that we want to see in all of our students and staff,” Skelton said.
This mural is personal to Skelton, who has always believed that remembering the heritage and tradition of the school is important. Before being hired as the principal in 2018, he worked at various LISD schools for 17 years. Even then he saw why the school was special.
“As a young educator at that time, I was able to see the tradition and the pride and excellence that existed at Marcus,” Skelton said.
The mural’s design will depict the original campus in 1981 and show where the school began. Being the school’s first year, every club, program and sports team had just been formed. It was a new experience for students and teachers alike, and everyone had to work through it, fitting that year’s yearbook theme of “Getting It Together.”
Pictures of the old campus look almost unrecognizable compared to today. When the school opened, Flower Mound was still developing and was mainly farmland. Morriss Road was only two lanes, trees were smaller and the nearby houses hadn’t been built. Inside, the school was just four hallways and a library. Construction workers were a constant presence. The building was hot the first few weeks because it didn’t have air conditioning yet, and every window had to be kept shut to keep out loud moos from the nearby cows.
“It was like they put a school in the middle of a horse pasture,” Assistant Principal Kyle Smith said.
The design of the mural will also include two specific prominent people of the time, Larry Sigler, the first principal and Edward S. Marcus, the school’s namesake.
I was able to see the tradition and the pride and excellence that existed at Marcus.
— William Skelton, Principal
Smith is in charge of the written bios of Sigler and Marcus that will be placed on the mural. Smith worked with Sigler, who passed away in 2015 and said that he did everything to help the students.
“He made sure between every passing period, he was out there in the halls, high fiving kids and asking their names,” Smith said. “I think you’d be surprised if we could rewind the tape. He knew so many kids by first name.”
The campus is noticeably different today with the addition of the 9th grade campus, the football stadium and lack of cow pastures. Though so much has changed, Skelton believes aspects of that first year have still remained.
“Academic achievement has always been something very important to our community but also to our students,” Skelton said. “They take great pride in the work they do in the classroom and setting themselves up for a great future.”
Behind the design
LISD has its own team of people from the communications department working on the mural. Lee Ann Brandy is in charge of the graphic design.
“During my research I learned that the town of Flower Mound was Mr. Marcus’ vision,” Bandy said. “That’s why he is the prominent and first figure in the design. I am amazed at how he could look at acres upon acres of vast ranch land and see a thriving suburban community of the future.”
The 40th anniversary mural will be designed digitally, mainly using Photoshop. Bandy broke down the process into three steps — brainstorming, design and application.
“The artwork needed to fit in with its surroundings, but also celebrate the past,” Bandy said. “Not an easy combination.”
We’re all blessed to be a part of such a supportive school community with a rich tradition.
— William Skelton, Principal
After brainstorming, Bandy began to electronically restore old images of Sigler and Marcus. She also found old maps to represent how barren Flower Mound was. The entire time she was working from a computer at home during quarantine for COVID-19.
Bandy decided to include symbols such as cows, flowers and airplanes in the design of the mural.
“They’re Texas themes, but back then, there were more cows and bluebonnets here than students,” Bandy said. “The stick pin indicates that Marcus literally put Flower Mound on the map.”
To create the mural, a large format printer will print the background design onto a sheet of vinyl, which is similar to latex paint. It will then be heat-pressed onto the wall, making it look as if it had been painted. When that cures, secondary objects such as the school logo and blue prints will be installed. The last piece, a stainless steel band with 1982 on it, will then be added.
Other plans have been affected by COVID-19. In addition to the mural, Skelton had hoped to bring back charter staff members as part of celebrations, but instead has had to adapt to the current situation.
“We’re going to shift gears and find other ways to celebrate,” Skelton said. “I think a lot of that is just through pushing the message out through many of our communications throughout the year, but we are hoping to have an activity in the spring.”
Skelton says he is proud of all the accomplishments the school has made.
“We’re all blessed to be a part of such a supportive school community with a rich tradition,” Skelton said. “If you look at the 40 year stretch, it’s difficult to match our level of success in academics and in athletics and fine arts, and that’s due to the hard work of the teachers, parents and students that have come before us.”