Painting a picture of Sneha Akurati

A senior paints murals for VHHS


Bharathi Pragada

Akurati paints a VH Unite mural in the Fine Arts hallway.

The fine bristles of the brush swirl in hues of blue paint, adding splashes of color to the white brick of the Vernon Hills High School hallway. Listening intently to TED Radio Hour, Sneha Akurati (12) stands on tiptoe to add the finishing touches to a flag.

Akurati painted two new murals this summer: the DARING mission statement near the main gym and the VH Unite mural in the language hallway depicting a sizable globe framed with the flags of VHHS students.

“In our culture today, it’s so easy to breed hate right now,” Akurati said. “We all are part of different cultures. We all have different traditions, skin colors and languages we speak; we need to learn about other cultures and embrace them.”

The murals are reminders what VHHS stands for and represents the wide of range of diversity in the school.

“Though we’re all uniquely different, we have a lot more in common than uncommon, and for us to consider each other part of a family I think is pretty important,” Dr. Guillaume stated.

Akurati spent a month painting both murals. She worked every single day, including weekends, and stayed until 9:00 or 10:00 pm on some nights.

Her passion-fueled, determined mindset didn’t go unnoticed. Cassie Pappano (12) watched Akurati work over the summer and commented on how her effort is clearly reflected in the murals.

“Both of the murals stand for messages our school promotes, and her work displays them beautifully,” Pappano said.

Akurati smiled broadly as she explained how to her, art doesn’t feel like work at all. After a stressful day of school, classes and tests, art gives her an unparalleled sense of calmness.

“Just find something you love to do and just do it,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like work to you if you love doing it.”  

Ever since she was little, she loved sharing her art with others. She used to paint pictures of animals and give them to her family and friends; she loved seeing the joyous reactions of people when they saw her work.

“Art is a type of therapy. It really can be used to heal; I truly believe that,” she said.

While searching for potential painters, Dr. Guillaume was directed to Akurati, an experienced muralist. During her junior year, she painted her first mural while attending Conserve School, a semester school in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin. There, she learned about environmental advocacy, living a sustainable life and embracing nature.

“It was the best experience of my life so far,” she said. “I’m really passionate about the environment and preserving the earth as long as possible.”

She had contributed in the revival of VH2O, a club focused on advocating for the earth and raising awareness about environmental issues.

“Something I really admire about Sneha is her passion for making the world a better place,” Madelyn Woodrow (12) said.

Her AP art teacher, Ms. Molloy, commented that Akurati’s art has become such a rich body of work because of her openness to discussion and willingness to self-reflect.

“Every day, she comes in with a smile on her face and is ready to learn,” Ms. Molloy said. “She’s very down-to-earth very upbeat. She’s passionate and self-reflective. Sneha has such a beautiful energy about her.”