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New Richmond grad tradition artistically inspired

Leo Li is painting a mural at Steveston-London secondary after normal grad ceremonies were cancelled.
Leo Li (right), Grade 12 student at Steveston-London, has created a mural to capture Grad 2021 students' spirit. He is joined here by his art teacher Jeremy Thompson.

Steveston-London grads won’t have their annual boat cruise or dinner dance this year – but one Grade 12 student is hoping to capture the grad class’s freedom and optimism for the future in a mural that will be displayed at the school.

Leo Li has been working on his painting for hours every day since January, the first of its kind at the south Richmond high school, inspired by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokisai and Chinese artist Jianjun An, who currently teaches at a private art and design school in Richmond.

The mural shows athletes sprinting to the finish line of a race with their masks flying in the air with a backdrop of Steveston-London secondary.

“I hope to be able to capture a small portion of the collective optimistic drive that defines the grads of 2021, instead of a muted reflection on adversity,” Li explained.

The unnamed mural, which includes the signatures of the graduating class around its border, will be hung in the foyer of the school within the next few weeks as Li is currently putting the finishing touches to it.

It is meant to be the first of many grad murals to be hung around the school each year.

The mural was commissioned by the school’s graduation committee, a group of Grade 12 students who are trying to come up with creative ways to celebrate their grad milestone despite the ban on large gatherings and start new traditions, Li explained.

This is the second year when large, traditional graduation ceremonies have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.