ELKHART, Ind. — Central High School’s parking lot is a little more colorful this year, even when it’s empty, thanks to its parking space decorating program.

According to vice principal Kelly Berheide, around 60 students and faculty are participating this year, paying $30 in order to purchase a specific personal parking spot that they can paint with a school-approved design.

The program has been ongoing for several years but students say there seems to be more students participating this year.

“I always encouraged my older sisters to buy a parking spot and paint it for them but they wouldn’t do it,” said senior Ryan Pairitz.

Pairitz purchased a spot and was among the first to do so for this year, he said, choosing a spot in the first row of student parking closest to the sidewalk.

He then painted a design that is eye catching and advertises the graphic design company he incorporated this spring, Pairijee LLC.

“I thought I would buy the foremost parking space when walking out of the school because I leave after fourth hour for an internship so when people are walking out of the school, this is the first spot they would see, so it’s perfect for advertising,” he said.

Using regular 8-and-a-half by 11 inch paper, Pairitz made templates for the complex design and over the course of several days, with help from his parents, meticulously painted the space.

Pairitz said that he’s already received some business inquiries from the space, including from Elkhart Community Schools Dr. Robert Haworth, who told him that the district would consider him for future projects.

“You want to get your money’s worth, I spent close to $200 for the paint and equipment,” Pairitz said.

Another senior, Katey Gaff, used a simpler approach, choosing a design with a sun and her name, but she almost didn’t even buy a spot.

“Actually my first reaction was that’s kind of dumb for $30, but then I looked into it and I thought it was a good opportunity,” she said. “My friends all did it so we all park next to each other so that’s kind of fun.”

There was another benefit for her too.

“I was late just about every day last year, so why not get a good guaranteed spot every day,” Gaff said with a laugh.

According to Berheide, the idea for the program came after she visited New Castle High School and said that it’s a nice way for students to have a special spot.

“It’s a way for the kids to have something special and it supports the student activities fund,” she said.

Berheide said that the money the school gets from each spot goes into the fund, which is used for rewards for students.

For Pairitz, his spot is a special point of pride, likening himself to a jealous boyfriend that doesn’t want to see anyone else using his parking spot.

“I even drive out here for home football games to park here and then have my parents pick me up so that no one else parks in it,” he said.

Source: The Elkhart Truth, http://bit.ly/2xj7LKl

Information from: The Elkhart Truth, http://www.elkharttruth.com

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by The Elkhart Truth.

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