Students, faculty, staff post dreams on 'After I Graduate' wall
URBANA — If you're wondering what Urbana High School students are planning after graduation, a new wall on the second floor of the school will give you a good idea.
The After I Graduate wall, which went up Wednesday in the high school, features the written hopes and dreams of students and those who work at the school, as well. (The wall includes the word "graduate" in quotation marks, since it includes the school's adults.)
Some are funny, and some are serious. Some express uncertainty in the future.
Urbana students hope to pursue careers in medicine, social work, education, veterinary medicine, engineering and many other fields.
Students are hoping to travel, get rich, play sports professionally, live on their own and find a job they love.
During the day Wednesday, it attracted attention from students as they looked for their own responses, as well as those of their classmates.
Senior Maya Decker was one of the students who worked on the project.
It's valuable "to know what your dreams are and go for it," Decker said.
Junior Abrianna Uher agreed, saying it gave the student body something to think about.
"I think it opened their eyes to things they could possibly do," she said.
Uher said she and other students who work on the Urbana High School student newspaper, The Echo, were inspired after reading about the Before I Die public art wall in downtown Champaign.
They wanted a way to connect the idea to high school students and so came up with the idea of making it an After I Graduate wall.
Everyone in high school wants to be connected, Uher said, and she thinks participating in the wall will create memories for students.
"It's just a way to connect everybody in one thing," she said.
The students wanted everyone at the high school to have the chance to participate in the project, so they distributed the slips through the school's English classes, because all students take English.
No one had to participate, though, and while they had the option of including their names, they weren't required to do so.
Once they got the slips of paper back, the students glued them to colorful backgrounds and used "lots and lots of glue sticks" to attach them to a large piece of brown paper, Decker said.
"We got a lot back," said senior Maya Decker. "It was exciting."
Uher said she liked the funny responses the best, including one about eating the entire menu at Taco Bell and skydiving naked.
She said she was surprised that so many responses were about colleges, careers and the goal to play sports professionally.
"It's nice to know people want to do those things," she said.
Decker said she would love it if the wall turned into a kind of tradition, and if future organizers could compare this year's answers to those students submit in the future.
Erin Ludwick, who teaches journalism and English at UHS, said she just showed an article about the wall to students, and they did the rest, from making the slips to distributing them to getting them ready to be mounted on the wall.
She said she liked that the students also included faculty and staff members in the project.
"It's good for the school community to see that everyone has a goal outside school," Ludwick said.
UHS Principal Matt Stark said he's enjoying the wall, and he likes that it applies to the next stage of students' life, rather than the more general "before I die" concept it's based on.
"My hope was to have kids look forward to what is next," he said. "The result was a mix of personal goals and academic (and) professional goals."
Lisa Meid, who was one of the organizers of Champaign's Before I Die wall, said she still believes the Before I Die wall encourages people to reach their goals because of its public nature.
But with the After I Graduate concept, it also includes a shorter time frame.
"I think it's a really cool way to expound on the idea," Meid said. "It might make people be a little more apt to act on their goals."