The Story of Johnston’s Murals
Through the centuries there have been many important works of art that stand as landmarks of achievement: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Francisco Goya’s The Third of May, Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, and now, the murals on the walls of Johnston’s cafeteria.
Though these murals officially exist as untitled works of art that coalesce into an overall tropical island feel, it is important that the works do not go down in history as anonymous works. Many important individuals had a hand in completion of the larger-than-life project. Let’s look back at the evolution of this masterpiece and those who made it happen.
Back in the early winter of 2006, the vision of a grand mural was taken from vision and moved on to the four walls of the cafeteria. The original visionary was Jennifer Randall, the mother of a Johnston student. Her son left our school before the project was finished, and though she persevered, she was not on hand to see the completion of the project which was finished in March of 2008.
The project got off to a rousing start with many individuals on hand to chase the goal of finishing the work by the end of winter break during the 2006-’07 school year. Unfortunately, the project was much bigger than what was anticipated and though the enthusiastic artists got a huge amount of the project done, they didn’t finish. Through the course of the next weekends and many evenings, the number of volunteers tapered off from about 20 to just a couple. It’s not that we had quitters - nobody had the foresight to see that this job was as big as it really was! Individuals volunteered what time they could and quietly went on with the other priorities of life after they could give no more.
We didn’t care here at Johnston, the new murals – though unfinished – were a huge improvement compared to the barren walls that formerly had stared blankly at our students while they munched their grilled cheeses, drank their milks, and devoured their walking tacos. We were happy.
But . . . very quietly and gradually - sometimes in the evening, sometimes on the weekend, sometimes very early, or sometimes very late – work continued on the murals. As if a team of elves visited in the night, or a magical being appeared from thin air, or Judith Morton Johnston herself peeled away from the photograph that adorns our lobby . . . the work went on. But this was not magic – it was Mr. Gergely, his wife Anni, and his three daughters Angie, Andrea, Abby .
All along, without complaint or thanks or pay or anything – all along Mr. Gergely was intent on finishing the mural. As Captain Ahab had Moby Dick and Wile E. Coyote has his Road Runner . . . Mr. Wally Gergely valiantly battled the walls of the cafeteria and eventually won. In the end, with the help of his family, the final stroke was applied and a masterpiece was completed.
We thank all of those who made the murals possible. They brighten our day, make our cafeteria unique, and make us proud when others come in to our school. Your work will last as long as Johnston is in existence. And a special thanks to the Gergely’s. We will always remember you as the artists who wouldn’t let well enough alone.
Wally Gergely Jack Schroeder Lisa Kelly
Anni Gergely Cheryl Fleming Mary Kerber
Angie Gergely Jodi Dekker Mike Kerber Sr.
Andrea Gergely Patrick Ogrentz Mike Kerber
Abby Gergely Cindy Szczepanski Samantha Kerber
Jennifer Randall Sean Pozywio Joey Kerber
Jeffrey Schroeder Kim Schroeder Bonnie Lula