Even though the Leo Hayes High School safe grad committee had something taken away from them, they decided to give something back.

The 2020 and 2021 safe grad celebrations, canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic, left the committee with some extra funds.

They decided to put those toward a legacy donation: The school’s main gymnasium has been spruced up with a 1,400-square foot vinyl wrap that dominates two walls.

“It’s gorgeous,” said safe grad executive committee member Anna Lingley. “It turned out better than I could have imagined, and it definitely revamped the space.”

The Lions Den moniker and Lions head logo are prominent ties to the school’s sports teams, “but for us, this is more than a gym,” Lingley said. “We don’t have an auditorium, so we do all our assemblies here, lots of clubs meet here, so it’s really a source of pride for the school.”

Lingley is proud of making something positive out of the pandemic.

“It was a huge disappointment that, yet again, we were going to be missing out on a lot of the typical things that a grad year is supposed to encompass,” she said.

But Lingley says the committee was quick to respond when vice-principal Shaun Davis and athletic director Kurt Allen ran the idea by them.

“It was a really great opportunity to jump on this,” Lingley said. “It was a way to leave something behind here and do something with our money that would benefit the people who would go to the school long after we will, and leave a legacy of sorts.”

“It certainly brightens it up a lot and makes it a lot more inviting.,” Allen said. “With COVID, the safe grad committee was limited in what they could spend their money on, but this is certainly a great leave for them. Just like the wall of fame out in the hall, it’s something people will see and enjoy for years to come.”

“We’re excited,” Davis said. “I think it makes a huge difference for the culture of the school, for school assemblies, for sports – the atmosphere for all that stuff, and the pride of the kids when they’re in here.”

Davis says the vinyl wrap – which has the visual impact of a vibrant painting – was applied during the March break.

“We did our best to keep it under wraps,” he said. “So it was a nice surprise, and welcome sight, when students and staff returned.”

Rocket Printing CEO Scott Williams wanted to contribute to the project because of his ties to the school. He’s a former Lions basketball coach and, this year, his youngest will become the family’s third child to wear an LHHS graduation cap.

“I just love that it’s something positive for Leo Hayes,” Williams said. “All three kids have had a great experience here. Two of them played basketball in this gym, and it’s nice to see the youngest – her class and last year’s class – have a bit of a legacy to leave behind.”

Bruce Hallihan 

Sports editor/news reporter | The Daily Gleaner