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Making Our Mark
Written by Gaeun Lee | Published. 2021.06.09 21:32 | Count : 92

Our school, the American School of Milan (ASM), provides an opportunity for senior students to paint a concrete brick on a wall before we leave the school. Except for a few students who are not in Milan, the vast majority of our class volunteered to participate in this year’s senior brick-painting event. 

[Initial design of my senior brick. Created by Gaeun Lee]

Since our senior brick represents who we are, I wanted to draw all of the things that symbolize me. My last eight years in the school have always been full of bliss, so I decided to draw a frame of green plants which symbolize youth and happiness. As some of you might have noticed, the lettering of my name is inspired by the album cover of Dynamite by BTS, my favorite boy band. The design was ideal.

[Screenshot of the roster of students who volunteered for the painting event]

Not only the seniors in the class of 2021, but also some seniors from the class of 2020 came to school for their brick painting. The class of 2020 lost their opportunity to paint their bricks due to the national lockdown that was imposed from March to May last year. However, since COVID-19 is still going on, the school allowed a maximum of four students at the same time. Moreover, under the supervision of our counselors, we followed the COVID-19 regulations and maintained distance. I visited our school on May 19 with my initial design. 

Frankly, painting brick with my mask on was suffocating and tiresome. The school provided basic colors, including red, blue, green, yellow, white, and black, meaning that there were no colors such as light green or dark green. The students had to create the colors they wanted with the provided paints. It was especially difficult for me since I needed various shades of green. Moreover, we could paint our bricks only from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. because we were painting in the middle of the corridor. After 11:30 a.m., the kindergarten students have to pass through the hallway for lunch. This meant that we had to wrap up our painting in order to avoid contact between ourselves and students passing by. So, with less than three hours to do our painting, it was nearly impossible to leave a homage to my favorite artist, BTS, due to the colors and style of calligraphy I would have to use. So, I just wrote my name without any intricate decorations. 

[My completed senior brick. Photo courtesy of Gaeun Lee]

While I was writing the years that I have been at ASM, I realized just how long I have stayed in Italy. When I was in fifth grade, I didn’t expect myself to paint my brick at ASM. Even though the process of brick painting was a bit exhausting, I recalled my childhood memories with my friends. One of my friends said that she cannot believe that she’s graduating from the school because she has been here since kindergarten.

[Bricks of the class of 2021. Photo courtesy of Marine de Passorio]

When I was finalizing my brick, one elementary school kid who was passing by asked the teacher walking with her what we were doing. The teacher kindly responded that we were doing the important task of leaving behind a trace of ourselves to show our appreciation for the school and our years there. The kid asked if she will ever have a chance to paint a brick, and the teacher responded, “Yes, as long as you stay at ASM until 12th grade.” That kid reminded me of myself in fifth grade, not expecting to stay in Italy for eight years. But now I was here leaving a trace of my presence at ASM. As we finished our bricks, we felt like our lives at ASM were about to come to an end as well. Other graduates would have felt this complex emotion as well: full of reminiscence, a sense of freedom, and regret about losing our cherished high school life. For this reason, although we got to leave our mark on our school, The the senior brick painting event was bittersweet.

Gaeun Lee
12th grade
American School of Milan

Gaeun Lee  student_reporter@dherald.com

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