LOUISVILLE - Carlton B. Shaver had attempted for years to turn a massive rock at the Massena Rod & Gun Club into a work of art.
Thanks to three Massena Central High School volunteers, Mr. Shaver's dream finally came to fruition.
As one of the founders of the club, Mr. Shaver, 89, has worked for decades to steadily improve and expand it. A large rock with white, peeling paint behind the clubhouse became his latest effort.
The rock had sat in its current spot for nearly 15 years, after a contractor stumbled upon it while clearing out brush during an expansion.
"I said, if you could move it by the tree, that would be as good as anything," Mr. Shaver said. "You don't have a rock this size every day."
A layer of white paint intended to dress up the rock never quite did the trick and had began to peel away. Mr. Shaver had read about other communities converting rocks into murals, and wanted to bring that tradition back to his club.
Katelin J. LaLonde, Stephanie A. Badder and Alycia R. Beattie, all seniors at MCHS, stepped up to volunteer after Mr. Shaver contacted MCHS art teacher Nancy Charleston. About $70 worth of supplies and 20 hours of work later, the rock is transformed. What was once a nondescript hulk now features a "forest motif" of mountains, waterfalls, moose, a sunset, and the club's name and logo.
"It's a curiosity. That's for sure," Mr. Shaver said of the end product.
The students designed the painting on their own, Mr. Shaver said. They worked within earshot of nearby target practice during the sunny, warm stretch of weather earlier this month. The opportunity gave the girls a chance to exercise their talents and gifts.
"It's who I am," Miss Badder said. "Art is one thing that makes me. I figure out who I am through art."
The girls, all of whom are enrolled in international baccalaureate classes at the school, where thrilled to have their work showcased in a more public setting.
The school's I.B. program features a community service component. Up until now, much of the girls' work had not left the classroom walls.
"The rock became our canvas," Miss LaLonde said.
The girls and Mr. Shaver also bonded during the experience. He took them to dinner at Pizza Hut, a favorite spot where he and his late wife always dined. While there, he taught them German songs he learned while serving overseas during World War II, a stint that included combat in the Battle of the Bulge.
The girls took a lot away from it too. The experience reaffirmed Miss LaLaonde's passion for art, which she wants to turn into a career down the road.
"I would make it work, no matter what," Miss LaLonde said. "I can't give it up."