While some people are dreaming of a white Christmas, Brenda Petersen fancies black and gold. Mrs. Petersen, wife of McDuffie Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Petersen, has decorated the Board of Education building for the holidays with Thomson High School colors and the bulldog mascot.
"Now when everybody comes in here, they don't look at me anymore, they are too busy looking at all the decorations," said Catherine Cowins, school board receptionist. "It takes them a while to get in the door because they stand out (in the foyer) just looking around."
Brenda Petersen hugs a large inflatable Bulldog in the lobby of the Board of Education.
Dressed all in black and gold complete with bulldog jewelry, Mrs. Petersen spent the weekend after Thanksgiving with her husband in the BOE building putting up two faux brick walls and fireplaces with gold stockings, a white Christmas tree with bulldog ornaments, wreaths with gold apples, and bulldogs of every size sporting black jerseys or gold Santa hats everywhere the eye can see.
"The school colors and mascot tie everybody together, so you have to play it up," Mrs. Petersen said. "I like to say if anybody around here gets cut, they should bleed black and gold."
Since her arrival less than two years ago, not only has Mrs. Petersen been busy decorating for the holidays, she also has been transforming the general dž©cor of the building to make it more suitable for its purpose.
"This office is about our students and our staff‚Ä¶they can't work well unless they're in a warm atmosphere," Mrs. Petersen said.
To encourage the staff, Mrs. Petersen changed the interior colors from white walls with teal and burgundy accessories to a peanut color with black and gold accents.
Doing most of her shopping on eBay, Mrs. Petersen was able to find a wall paper border of gold-trimmed black swags with gold tassels. She has sewn matching window treatments, table cloths, and chair coverings from material that is tan with black stripes, checks, paw prints or bulldogs.
Mrs. Petersen pays for the decorations and does all the work herself. Her experience comes from her mother, who was a professional seamstress, and her father, who finished wood furniture.
"The board didn't realize they got a two-for-one deal when they got us," Dr. Petersen said.
Several of the staff members' small offices have been "opened up" with the addition of a garden mural that Mrs. Petersen also found on eBay. She brought in bursts of color to those who had plain offices by creating window treatments and smaller wall borders.
To honor achievements of principals, teachers and students, Mrs. Petersen created a "hall of fame." One side has large framed photos giving recognition of the Top Dog of each month, and the other side showcases artwork of students.
"We need to do this because the big (officials) who can move and shake things for the students are almost never in the actual school house, but they visit the Board of Education building," Mrs. Petersen said.
In addition to officials, Mrs. Petersen also believes parents are affected by the appearance of the building. She said when people see how well the building is taken care of, they know their children will be taken care of also.
Dr. Petersen said his wife understands there is a purpose to decorating and the changes that come with it.
"I know the old saying is you can't judge a book by its cover," Mrs. Petersen said. "Well, you have to like the cover to choose the book."