An encouraging chalk message graces the sidewalk at Marist High School in Eugene. (Courtesy Marist High School)
An encouraging chalk message graces the sidewalk at Marist High School in Eugene. (Courtesy Marist High School)

EUGENE — When Marist teachers returned to the campus to collect their mail before Christmas break, they were treated to a colorful surprise on their walk into the office. “MARIST STAFF CAN DO VIRTUALLY ANYTHING” graced the concrete in bright blue and pink chalk along with other messages of gratitude and encouragement.

The project was the brainchild of Caitlin Vargas, a 2001 Marist alum, who had to think outside the box with how the community could show the Marist staff that all of their hard work this school year had not gone unnoticed. Vargas wanted to recreate that “feeling of excitement” kids get when their parents would line up and form a tunnel for them to run through after a sports game.

“It can be challenging to recognize excellence in a large group, so the goal was to emulate what the teachers themselves do every day – and that is take the time and effort to make each student feel valued,” said Vargas.

From current parents to former students, volunteers showed up in masks and got to work beautifying the walkway in front of Marist’s main office. This also gave some volunteers an opportunity to reflect on the invaluable lessons that a Catholic education has given them.

Catholic education set the foundation of my whole person — my faith, my confidence, my drive, my values and my love for my family,” said Vargas.

“I credit my time at Marist for teaching me how to work for the common good and how to communicate the love of Christ in a practical way by helping people with their basic needs.