Some students at Massaponax High School are looking forward to snow—and not just because of the chance they could get the day off.
Snow will mean they might get to see some of the VDOT snow plows they decorated with murals this fall.
“As soon as we get some snow, they’ll be on the road—as art in motion, so to speak,” said Tina Bundy, communications coordinator for VDOT.
The Massaponax High art club painted six snow plows as part of Paint a Plow, a VDOT community involvement program.
“It gives us an opportunity to interact with school-age students and engage with our snow plow operators,” Bundy said. “It raises awareness of their hard work and also the talent of our students.”
Bundy said teachers who want to offer the opportunity to their students reach out to VDOT’s customer service department and are paired with the closest VDOT area headquarters to coordinate.
She said Spotsylvania County’s Massaponax High was the only school in VDOT’s Fredericksburg District—which includes 14 localities—to participate in the program this year.
All five Massaponax art teachers worked to connect students in the school’s art club with the program.
“It’s always good to work with the community on a project,” said art teacher Carter Corbin.
She said students came up with designs for each of the six plows they were given. About 20 students worked on the project.
“They had to collaborate and really work with each other,” Corbin said. “There were so many different students working on it and piecing it together.”
Massaponax senior and art club president Mikayla Heightshoe said the club wanted to participate at first “just to figure out what [Paint a Plow] was.”
They wanted their plows to reflect the Fredericksburg area’s local culture and rich history, so they chose to depict famous historical figures such as George Washington and Pocahontas, natural features such as the Rappahannock River and local landmarks such as Carl’s Frozen Custard and the railroad bridge over the river.
Heightshoe said the students spent about a week planning their designs and three weeks painting them outside in weather that started out steamy and ended up frigid.
The students mixed their own colors and figured out the scale of their murals as they painted.
“We had all these plans and then it got a little messy,” senior Chaylea Buchanan said. “It was this huge project. It was definitely confusing, but we all pulled it together. I’m really proud. They came out great.”
Heightshoe is eager to see the plows in action and thinks the designs will hold up in all kinds of wintry weather.
“We used house paint with primer,” she said. “I got it all over my clothes and it has not come out yet, so hopefully it will last on the plows!”
Bundy said the plows will be used to clear primary and secondary roads and subdivisions within VDOT’s Massaponax area. They are six of 18 snow plows assigned to that area.
One hundred and eighty plows are assigned to the larger VDOT Fredericksburg District, not including equipment assigned to Interstate 95, Bundy said. Statewide, VDOT has 12,100 vehicles, including contracted vehicles, ready to deploy for snow and ice control this winter.
Heightshoe said the students “absolutely loved” participating in the Paint a Plow project.
“Massaponax Art doesn’t get much recognition,” she said. “It’s nice for people to know how many artists we have here.”