For seniors at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, their parking space at school traditionally has been as much about art as it has been a place to keep their car.

Bright designs left by recent grads in the Class of 2019 still adorn the TJ High School spaces. Everything, from a spot painted pink with big, white pineapples to a bar of musical notes with the words “love can tell a million stories,” tells a unique story. One spot shows an intricately painted orange iguana against a light blue background, while another is light gray with the words “throw kindness around like confetti” scrawled across in black and light blue.

For the past two years, seniors have paid $50, on top of the cost of a parking permit, to paint their parking spot. They submit an application and a design, which must be approved by the counselor’s office.

But for the Class of 2020, that self-expression may be erased by Frederick County Public Schools.

Quinten Norberg is a rising senior at TJ High and has been looking forward to painting his spot for his last year of high school. Before beginning his summer vacation, he submitted his application and $50 check. Two weeks later, he was called into the counselor’s office and told that the activity had been canceled and he would be reimbursed for the fee he paid.

When he asked why, Quinten was told the decision came from Frederick County Public Schools headquarters.

FCPS Chief Operating Officer Paul Lebo, however, said a final decision has not yet been made. Lebo said TJ High submitted a request for the activity in mid- to late June and that it is still under review.

“We still have a lot of concerns that haven’t been answered yet,” Lebo said. “About types of paint that can be used, who’s going to supervise, how would they handle an environmental spill, cleanup.”

When asked why the activity had been allowed at TJ High for the past two years, Lebo said a request hadn’t been submitted. Lebo told a reporter that the school district had not been previously aware that students were painting their spots. Lebo explained that in the past, an activity such as this would not have required approval, but with new regulations regarding modifications to facilities and grounds, a request this year was required.

Middletown High School also had a similar program last year.

“The senior parking spot painting activity was hugely popular with the seniors in August 2018,” Lee Jeffrey, former principal of Middletown High, said in an email. “Not only did they enjoy expressing their creativity, the students enjoyed a day of painting with classmates and family members.”

One concern the school district has is potential damage to asphalt.

Seve Scott, a paving production manager with Pleasants Paving of Frederick, has provided paving work for FCPS in the past. He says that when paint is put down on asphalt, it can soak into the pavement and is difficult to get out.

Normally, each incoming senior has painted black over the previous spots before painting their own design, but according to Scott, this buildup of paint can cause problems down the road. The various layers of paint prevent the lot from being a flat surface, which could eventually lead to puddles. But this could take years, Scott said. It would be at least five coats of paint before effects start showing.

“My recommendation is they use chalk,” Scott said.

When the idea of chalk was suggested to Quinten, he chuckled.

“I would be out here every weekend redoing my design,” Quinten said.

Sherry Norberg, Quinten’s mother, says painting the spots allows seniors to show off their personality and school spirit.

“When you see these kids’ spaces ... they’re amazing,” Norberg said.

Quinten was planning to highlight his favorite things in his design. The rising senior is a culinary student at the Frederick County Career and Technology Center and was going to paint rolling pins along with the TJ Patriot mascot, and the logo of the New York Giants, his favorite pro football team.

Beth Bowman Case, a parent of an Oakdale High School student, said that between 30 and 40 seniors had been interested in the activity last year. The school designated a day toward the end of the summer to allow seniors to come and paint, but at the last minute, it had to be canceled due to bad weather.

The Oakdale community wanted to try again this year but then heard about what was happening at TJ. Case decided to start a petition online titled “Let’s Get Paint Your Parking Spot at All FCPS High Schools Approved.” Case said she hoped the petition would garner support from across the county.

As of Wednesday, almost 300 people had signed Case’s petition. Lebo said he was not aware the petition existed.

Both Case and Norberg hope the schools and administration can reach a compromise, perhaps allowing the seniors to paint their spots with a different type of paint that wouldn’t be as damaging.

“It’s a great way to show school spirit and raise money for things,” Case said. “It’s good for the community and school.”

Norberg put it more bluntly.

“Let them enjoy their senior year, for God’s sake,” she said.

Quinten agrees.

“You know we don’t get a lot. Give us what we can get,” Quinten said. “These are the best four years of your life. ... Let us enjoy them while they’re here.”

Lebo says FCPS is working with outside contractors to get different perspectives and input, on which a final decision will be based and given to schools by the end of July.

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill.

(34) comments


🗣 Are you having fun yet? You are?? Well knock it off!!


When I was a kid I was working, not out painting asphalt....


When I was a Senior in High School, in 1958, I had a ‘49 Plymouth, the dorkiest car in history, I drove to school. A couple other guys had ‘49 or ‘50 Plymouth’s also. We called ourselves the “Chicken Shifts”. There were a lot of fixed up “cool” cars, lowered in back, fender skirts, glass pac mufflers, “leaded” hoods and trunks, pin stripes, even a couple of real “Hot Rods”. Cars were a big deal. Lots of “peelin’ out” and “catchin’ 2nd gear”(making the tires “chirp” when shifting to 2nd gear). We were allowed to have fun in the old days when we were kids. And Kelly, I worked at the local Drug Store after school too.




1. Two years is not a tradition. It is not even a series. 2. Quotes probably taken out of context, but they sound entitled. 3. Cost of replacement or repairs probably are not covered by $50 per space.


Work out the cost or removing and repairing every 5 years, divide by five, and charge accordingly. Done deal. Should be figured out quickly enough with old school math, but with Common Core, it might take a year or two. And 2 years makes a 'tradition"??




I'd paint mine like a Holstein, so my fluid leaks would blend right in.


He will change when gets into the real world after graduation from high school.


Mr. Norberg is a very lucky young man. Imagine waking up this morning and your only worry, at least worth putting in the paper, was that you could not paint the parking space your car will sit in. Enjoy your senior year my rising star, it's going to get a lot tougher than this! Wait till you buy your first home and the HOA tells you what you can and can't paint and what colors you can use...on your own property!


Correct me if I am wrong, the kids want their way without any concern to any possible environmental impact this has? I find it interesting the individual schools (staff) did this to property that does not belong to them without prior authorization. I understand it wasn't specifically written in the "rules" but surely they don't go around just painting anything they want without approval. Yes, it is a nice fun thing for the students, but lets get real, they did not have approval from the BOE to "mar" their property. Hopefully they can find a way to make this work for all.


Can’t do it. Move on...we will all complain when taxes go up to replace all the school parking lots and say that the administration is being wasteful. Can’t have it both ways.


The real issue here is the complete lack of communication or consideration from headquarters bureaucrats to principals, students, and families. FCPS doesn’t feel the need to discuss, explain, or collaborate. Just dictate. To the extent policy changes are even publicly acknowledged by FCPS, it’s after the fact. Dissent from staff, parents, or students is not tolerated. Parkway parents had the same experience recently.


Something that’s been going on for only two years is a “tradition?” I thought traditions were a little more time tested then that. And this kid thinks that high school is the best four years of his life? Seriously?


[thumbup]KR999. Yah, Is the FNP manufacturing a controversy here? The article starts by saying this is a tradition and later says it has only been going on for two years.


I agree three, seems a bit of a contradiction to me.


Lebo- Another overpaid bureaucrat with nothing better to do. Environmental spill hazard!!!!?????Ugh! Enough already, enough! Are you telling me FCPS has NOTHING better to worry about? Like maybe finding a way to cut costs to pay teachers more than minimum wage!? Lebo, donate your salary to the general fund and go to California!


I didn't have a car, much less a parking space, when I was in high school, so really hard for me to empathize.


Threecents👍 The problems of the wealthy and entitled. Walk. It’s good for you.


An 18 year old having a used car is considered wealthy and entitled now? I bought my first car when I was 17 and I can promise you I wasn't either.


I agree. The car I had in my senior year I bought with money I earned. Nobody helped me get it.


Lol, these were the "suicide machines " that Springsteen sang about in Born to Run. Old cars that were fixed up. Most kids don't get new cars. My kid's car is 21 years old. Hardly rich and entitled.


Mine was a ‘69 Triumph Spitfire rag top, a real s**t and git little thing. I loved it (and it was great for picking up chicks, too.)


Big difference is “YOU BOUGHT” it. How many of these kids bought theirs? How many are paying for their insurance, gas, upkeep? Not too many I bet!


[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] User!


Sounds like a cool idea. But if someone says you can’t do it any longer, why not just say OK and move on..


Because it’s a 2 year old “tradition”? Nothing here so move on children. If they can’t handle NO now what will happen when they get into the real world?


If there is a cost incurred for repair of the spaces, the students should have to pay their share of that cost before they receive their graduation privileges.


As a solution, couldn't a tractor with a wire brush remove the paint after seniors graduate? Or maybe one that would be more like sandpaper. That would make the asphalt smooth and eliminate the paint build up. . Every school has tractors for maintenance. They might have to invest in equipment for sanding.


[thumbup] something like a street sweeper with a vacuum & holding tank


I was thinking similar Dick. I don’t understand the paving guy’s point about painting asphalt that then soaks into the concrete, or his other point about paint causing pooling.


Do you really not understand the concepts of paint penetration and layering, or do you disagree that they occur?


Okay, if that's the problem, put down a coating that does not allow paint to penetrate.


Apologies three, I misread the passage that I commented on. My bad. Of course paint penetrates or adheres.

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