Kansas High School Art Students Take Custodian as Their Muse — and Produce Amazing Portrait of Their ‘Unsung Hero’


This article is one in a series at The 74 that profiles the heroes, victories, success stories and random acts of kindness found at schools all across America. Read more of our recent inspiring profiles at The74Million.org/series/inspiring.

These days, it can be hard to find an unsung hero – especially in high school, where everyone seems to be promoting his or her own personal brand on social media.

But when the art students at Seaman High School in Topeka, Kansas, set out on their annual quest to find a subject for their “Unsung Hero” portrait series, they didn’t have far to look.

Kendall Epperson, the school’s custodian and a member of its 1981 graduating class, fit the bill.

In an essay called “Details Matter,” the art students wrote about why they chose Epperson as their unsung hero.

“Unanimously, it was decided that Kendall Epperson would be our topic because he is a humble custodian, who many are familiar with but do not know personally,” the students wrote. “He is a man whose focus is not to steal the spotlight but to keep things running from behind the scenes, ensuring every detail is perfect.”

An Army veteran, “he continues to live by the values of military life: squaring off his sheets, rolling his socks and making sure everything is in order,” they wrote. “Respect is a major quality we see when we look at Kendall, but other aspects we observe in Kendall are kindness, compassion, care and attention to details.”

As artists, these students recognize the importance of details. They’d have to, in order to create such an intimate portrait.

This is how they did it: First, the students photographed Epperson, WIBW News reported. Then, they split the picture into segments and divvied up the pieces. Each student then copied the assigned section of the photo onto a sheet of paper, and when the pieces were assembled – voila! – a large and lovely portrait of Epperson appeared.

The portrait was so good that the high school students from Topeka got noticed by a highly competitive college for the fine arts in New York City.

The recognition could help the aspiring artists in the future, but for now, the focus is on Epperson.

“We all feel strongly that it’s about time that we recognize and appreciate Kendall as much as he appreciates all of us,” the students wrote. “He is a selfless man with a selfless job; one who makes everybody feel special and appreciated.”

Get stories like these delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for The 74 Newsletter

Republish This Article

We want our stories to be shared as widely as possible — for free.

Please view The 74's republishing terms.

On The 74 Today