DIBOLL — Diboll Junior High’s Student Council tackled a campuswide bathroom renovation project to raise spirits and take ownership in the school.
Student council sponsor Alicia McMullen said the pandemic had stalled their ability to go out into the community to do any projects, so they decided to do something on their home turf.
“I went to school here, and our bathrooms have probably not been updated probably since the 1990s,” McMullen said. “They just really needed an update, and I think this is a good way for kids to show ownership in their school. I asked them if they wanted to do it, and they jumped on it and have been really enjoying the process.”
The students worked in groups to transform the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms in the sixth- and eighth-grade halls. With chatter and smiles, they painted away, occasionally getting sidetracked to “accidentally” paint each other or clean up a wayward spill.
The students chose the colors, and they did the work. Sixth-grader Caleb Walker, 11, said the process was peaceful.
“I was excited to do it because I’d never painted anything really before, other than spray paint,” he said. “I thought it would be good to try and get the kids that’s messing them up to stop.”
There was a bathroom that the sixth-grade boys had been writing in for years and years until the principal said, “Enough,” and painted it black, McMullen said.
“So this bathroom was solid black,” McMullen said. “It was real dark and kind of sad. And I understand his mentality of, we’re going to stop fixing things if you keep destroying them, but these kids didn’t have anything to do with that, so we’re kind of starting fresh, I guess.”
Sixth-grader Mia Mitchell, 11, said she liked the progress much better than the old ones. She said she never thought she’d be able to do something like this.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s going to be new. It’s different from the other kids’ bathrooms.”
Other kids around the school had started talking about the bathrooms, wondering who was repainting them and commenting on the bright colors, Mia said.
“It felt good,” she said. “Student council lets us do things to help the school.”
Eighth-graders Sebastian Silva, 13, Macie Drinkard, 14, and Jalisa Walker, 13, said they liked being involved in the project. They said it was a big change, and they were glad they weren’t limited to the school’s colors.
“I like it because the restrooms are really nasty and ugly,” Sebastian said.
“It makes it more fun when we get to choose,” Jalisa said.
Macie said the time with friends was special, and she enjoyed it. Now that they have come together and done something as a student council, when they finish, they can look at it and say, “We did that.”
“Kids this age don’t have any say in what goes on,” McMullen said. “To give them that authority to say, this is what we like and what we want, to show that school pride and go forward and do good things, that’s what you want. I’m happy to be a part of that.”