By: Alivia Melius
Tussey Mountain High School “plowed” the competition in PennDOT’s annual “Paint the Plow” contest, taking home their fourth consecutive win. On Nov. 11, 2019, surveys closed for District 9’s plow voting, naming TMHS as the “Fan Favorite” and the judges’ choice.
Paint the Plow is a community outreach program founded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation geared towards spreading public awareness about snow plows and promoting overall safety during the winter season. The competition began in the 2015-2016 school year originating in Cambria County. Eventually the program spread throughout the state and is currently held in almost all counties across Pennsylvania. Bedford County first participated in the Paint the Plow competition in the 2016-2017 school year, deeming Tussey the victor every year since.
“[In 2016], Dr. Shoemoke had seen the contest through an email, and he sent it to me suggesting maybe we ought to try it out,” Adam Baughman, the art teacher, said. “He was excited about it.”
Each year, PennDOT assigns a theme for the plow designs. This year’s theme was “Don’t Rush in Ice and Slush.” Tussey based the main portion of their plow on Mount Rushmore as a play on words to the design prompt.
“I thought it was a pretty good idea since the name was ‘Don’t ‘Rush’ in Ice and Slush,’” sophomore Bradley Spitler–a second year art student–said. “It’s patriotic and it’s a big landmark in America.”
Planning begins as early as spring considering the amount of time the design process takes.
“We actually had to submit the design before the school year was even over simply because the other schools were committing copyright infringements,” Baughman said. “Our design was totally original, and it was composed by about twelve student submissions that were sketched out; and the ideas were torn into different pieces and reassembled on a piece of paper that was the same shape as the plow… It was kind of like a patch-work quilt of ideas,” Baughman said.
After approving the layout of the painting, students waited for the plow to arrive in the fall for the painting process to commence. Each year, Baughman’s art students base their plow on a form of art. This year, they chose surrealism, a style that creates the illusion of a fantasy reality. Baughman’s art students focused on the work of famous surrealist Salvador Dali for reference.
“We use a multitude of paints, preferably outdoor enamel. We use whatever type of paint we have available simply because it takes a lot of money to buy the right paint,” Baughman said.
Students soon found their niches in what part they played for creating the painting. Many students donated extra time to advance progress on the plow.
“When we were actually sketching the design I copied the [design of] Mount Rushmore,” senior Kaegan Thompson, who has assisted in completing the plow for all four years said. “Since I was unable to have an art class in my schedule, I worked solely on it during 10th period.”
“I mainly stuck with shaping Mount Rushmore, specifically George Washington and also the snow on the mountains, making it seem more realistic than it was,” Spitler said.
Sketchers and painters worked together during the month of October to complete and perfect the plow, until Oct. 17 when PennDOT took it for display outside the Bedford County PennDOT maintenance building. Previously, PennDOT hosted their fan voting through Facebook but switched to Survey Monkey this year. Community members were encouraged to follow the link to vote on their favorite plow.
Tussey Mountain plans to continue to participate in the Paint the Plow contest for years to come.
“I’m happy that we continue this streak of winning the plows, and I’m excited for next year’s ideas; and I can’t wait to be part of it and help develop a new plow idea next year,” Spitler said.
“I think we’re leaving it in the hands of some confident students. I hope that we will continue to win it, and I will support our plow and our art students in years to come,” Thompson said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the students that worked on it. They really came together as a team to accomplish another win for the school,” Baughman said. “It’s something that everyone can be proud of whether the person is a student who worked on it or is just part of the school community.” The decorative plows from participating schools will be visible throughout their counties clearing the roads this winter.