Boston Latin School senior Phillip Sossou left an amazing parting gift for his entire senior class after spending the last four months sketching portraits of his fellow would-be graduates in order to display them at the school as a final surprise, the Boston Globe reports.
Early last Friday morning, the final day of classes for seniors, Sossou and six friends took all 411 charcoal portraits that the teen had painstakingly drawn and hung them up along the walls of the school’s first floor.
“Our class has been kind of divided,” the 18-year-old told the Globe. “Having these pictures helps us to embrace our diversity.”
According to the Globe, Boston Latin School has been at the forefront of some negative news after accusations of racism from students of color surfaced. Those students claimed that school officials are often slow to respond to the use of slurs at the school.
The portraits are Sossou’s way of hoping to change that narrative of his school.
“I was trying to show everyone in a positive light,” he told the Globe.
Sossou, who decided to take advanced-placement visual arts this academic year, used the portraits as an independent project, one that his arts teacher did not think would be possible.
“He told me in September that he wanted to draw all 411 seniors,” arts teacher Stephen Harris recalled. “And I said, ‘Phillip, I don’t think that’s possible.’”
However, Sossou wasn’t deterred and asked his guidance counselor for a list of all those graduating in the spring. That counselor guided him to the school registrar, and the senior then started tackling the portraits. The first one was of himself.
According to the report, Sossou drew every day, way past school hours, to reach his lofty goal.
“There were times that I wanted to stop,” he said. “I thought they probably are not going to appreciate this because we are so divided.”
Read more at the Boston Globe.