In the world of uniformity, students show uniqueness inside their lockers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vidalia High School — like every other school in the area — tells its students what to wear.

The school issues the same textbooks to its approximately 400 students.

And administrators and teachers tell the teens when they will and when they won’t walk down the hallways.

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Face it, the folks attending VHS just don’t have many opportunities to prove their individuality.

Except for behind one door; two if your lucky.

Toni Swanson is the organized type. That’s apparent.

And starting high school this year meant one very cool thing for Toni — locker space.

Vidalia Junior High School doesn’t use lockers, so Toni was looking forward to her new space at the high school, so much so that she made a plan.

“I have a book at home of what to put in my locker each month,” the 15-year-old ninth grader said. “At Christmas it was candy canes, and I hung Santa Claus in the back. (February), it will be presidential stuff.”

In honor of President’s Day and the recent inauguration of President Barack Obama, Toni planned her February theme.

But January was a slow month as far as holidays are concerned, so Toni focused on something much closer to home — family and friends.

For the month, locker No. 99 contained pictures of a cousin, her little sister and friends hanging out at the RV park. Oh, and Snoop Dog.

Toni plans out her locker decorations at home with the notebook. She brings her new locker duds to school on decoration-day and gets to work in the mornings before classes start.

Toni has two lockers — she claimed one vacated by another student mid-year — but she only decorates one. The other serves as coat rack/backpack holder and doesn’t need decorations, she said.

As February comes to a close, Toni’s locker will soon bear the signs of spring — flowers and pretty things, she said.

Toni is the granddaughter of Doris Moore.

And her sister, Kisha Swanson, shares the same affinity for personalizing locker space.

Kisha, also a 15-year-old ninth grader, doesn’t plan things out quite as much as her sister though.

Her locker’s decorations remain pretty much static.

She has photos of family and classmates plastered on the inside walls of her locker.

But most of the photos aren’t recent ones; they are childhood photos.

The notes posted inside 16-year-old Emily Murray’s VHS locker No. 221 are a walk down memory lane and an encouraging thought all in one.

Her stepsister Taylor Loomis — who has a locker right next door at No. 222 — wrote the notes, well, just because.

One reads “Baby you can have whatever you like.”

It’s a song lyric sung by popular rapper T.I. And it’s a lyric that was played over and over and over again in Murray’s room this fall, Taylor said.

“It was her favorite song, and I heard it a lot,” Taylor said.

The other note is a simple one, “Taylor loves you.”

But the locker decorations for Emily and Taylor don’t stop with notes. Both girls have coated the inside of their locker doors with a leopard skin print.

The print is actually a magnetic sheet made for the inside of lockers.

“We went shopping for school supplies and we saw them,” Taylor said.

Leopard skin is a running theme for the girls — between them they have a purse and a rug that carry the print as well.