MHS Alumni Leave Lasting Legacy
September 21, 2022
After a year filled with school beautification projects with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee at MHS, Carson Hanis, Class of 2022, decided to fill the halls with color and faces with smiles one last time before graduating.
“One of the major themes [of the DEI] all year was creating a warm space for all students at Marquette, so I wanted to leave behind a sense of community and appreciation,” Hanis said.
In addition to placing heartfelt messages on paper butterflies and filling a hallway with banners of positive messages, Hanis had the idea last spring of creating a banner featuring the hands of students fingerspelling the word “unity” in American Sign Language (ASL). This fall, with the help of MHS alumni Evie Gallagher, Hanis made the idea into a reality in one of the major stairwells near the Commons.
No matter our differences, we are still human. I want you to feel valued and that your emotions are valid. I want you to feel like there’s always somebody in the world that loves you and cares about you no matter what is going on.”
— Carson Hanis
To make the students feel welcome and appreciated, Hanis said he wanted to put the word “unity” in the building to serve as a reminder that everyone is different yet unified in some way.
“No matter our differences, we are still human,” Hanis said. “I want you to feel valued and that your emotions are valid. I want you to feel like there’s always somebody in the world that loves you and cares about you no matter what is going on.”
In order to celebrate strength in differences, Hanis included the hands of five different ASL students on the banner. This decision turned the project into a surprise gift for ASL teacher Kathleen Drissell, who taught Hanis during his time at MHS.
Drissell was moved to tears after being presented with the completed banner.
“To know that this banner is going to be displayed for years to come, I was just so moved by that,” Drissell said.
The banner’s inclusion of her own students, as opposed to pictures from the internet, made the gift more personal for her, she said.
“Everytime I see it in the future, it will make me smile,” Drissell said. “I just feel like a proud mom.”
I think signs that say ‘hey, we accept you here,’ don’t always fix everythin. But, I do think that if someone is having a bad day, you know at least there’s someone in the world who doesn’t want bad stuff to happen to you.”
— Evie Gallagher
Evie Gallagher, Class of 2022, spent months designing the banner after she was approached by Hanis with the idea last spring.
Using Adobe Photoshop to cut the students’ hands out of the initial picture, Gallagher imported the cut outs into Adobe InDesign where she created the banner itself.
“I think signs that say ‘hey, we accept you here,’ don’t always fix everything,” Gallagher said. “But, I do think that if someone is having a bad day, you know at least there’s someone in the world who doesn’t want bad stuff to happen to you.”
Gallagher created the banner in Emily Bowdern’s Advanced Graphic Design class.
The process of using graphic design tools and problem-solving skills inspired Gallagher to become a graphic design major in St. Louis Community College.
Bowdern said she loves the meticulous work in the banner and would love to see more students create their own banners to beautify the school, but also help the entire student body feel more invested in MHS.
“The message is simple and promotes inclusivity in more than one way, but does so in a subtle way – which I think is really strong and beautiful,” Bowdern said. “I love that she used her own creativity and ideas to make something so positive that will last in our school for years and be seen by thousands of people.”