OGDEN -- It's hard to miss the gift the Ogden High School Class of 1963 donated to the school this week.
Walking south on the second floor, students and visitors will be greeted with a huge mural painting of two tigers -- the school's mascot -- from floor to ceiling covering the wall of the lecture hall.
1963 student body president Alan Hall said as the reunion was being organized he was working with other alumni and they wanted to do something extra special for the school since it was their 50th anniversary of graduation.
"There are several tigers around the building and we wanted to do something that would be bold and give a big shout out," Hall said.
Jody Haymond offered to be the chairperson over the gift and they came up with the idea of a mural because it could be something that could stay with the school and be a work of art. As Hall and Haymond talked, a name came to mind to do the work -- a former Ogden High graduate, Russ Swain. Swain graduated in 1963.
As Swain worked to put the finishing touches on the mural this week he talked about the experience of being in the school that not only he graduated from, but his two daughters and his business partner of several years, Noe Calderon, did as well.
Swain had done some work in Hall's home and Swain said the former class officers were very thorough in their explanation of the kind of mural they wanted.
Swain came up with the ideas of having the tigers flank the windows and create an artistic dominance. He and Calderon came up with the artistic concept and presented it to the committee. They started the project last fall and started to create the mural in Swain's studio so they could pay great attention to detail.
Hall wanted all the work to be done by hand so it would match with the architectural style of the school -- no modern technology, Swain said. They were also asked to create a marble-like facade along the bottom of the mural to be similar to the type of painting work in the Salt Lake City LDS Tabernacle.
Swain said he worked to come up with the perfect blend of oranges and hues to make the mural come to life.
The mural was hung in the hall on July 1 and sheetrocked around the outside so it looked like it was part of the wall. "This mural will last as long as the school. That is the thought behind it," Swain said.
Calderon said he figures he and Swain have put in about 350 hours apiece on the project and both admit to wanting it to be perfect.
Calderon carefully hand-painted the letters Tuesday afternoon to read, "Tradition of Excellence," a slogan that principal Stacey Briggs suggested because it is a long-standing motto of the school, Swain said. The two worked with a myriad of small paintbrushes and it was done completely by hand.
The class raised $9,000 for the mural -- with money coming from both big and small donations.
Hall hopes that at the reunion this weekend more money will come in to add some other pieces to the lecture hall room to really make a statement of how much his class loves its alma mater.
"We had a fairly large class, about 550 in our graduating class, so we thought, why not do something really special," Hall said. "This is our gift to this school. We absolutely love that it has such deep meaning for us since we were teenagers."
The mural was unveiled at the first night of the reunion Friday night at the school.
Assistant Principal Jim Mieure said watching the project come together has been wonderful and he has looked forward to checking on the project on almost a daily basis. "This is a beautiful gift the Class of 1963 has given this school."