When We Were Very Young: An SJND Art Commission | Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School


When We Were Very Young: An SJND Art Commission

Jim and Mandy Tham are long time members (third of 5 generations) and supporters of the St. Joseph parish and schools. They are alumni parents of James '93 and Laura Tham '85 O'Donnell and grandparents to current student Kelly O’Donnell ’16 and incoming student Kristen O’Donnell ’20. Through Mandy’s teaching at St. Joseph Elementary School from 1987-1995 and service as principal of SJES from 2005-2006, the Thams became acquainted with many SJND teachers. Over the years they developed an appreciation for Mr. Ritter’s approach to teaching art, and enjoyed the quality of art that his students produced.

Recently, Jim and Mandy had discovered an old photograph of their four children, taken during a family vacation in Yosemite. They thought the photo perfectly captured their children at a very young age.  Sadly, 30+ years had taken its toll on the photo, and their attempts at digitally scanning it yielded less than desirable results.

After seeing SJND student artwork hanging at the Blue Dot Café, the Thams contacted Mr. Ritter to inquire about the possibility of a student artist reproducing the photo. They connected with Justin Pasion ’16 who came up with a striking painting and an accurate reproduction.

Justin says, “This opportunity to do a commissioned artwork for the Tham family was a great way for me to plan a piece of advanced artwork on my own, and it gave me inspiration to do more advanced paintings. I used all the painting techniques I have learned from my art courses at SJND. I felt honored I was granted such a great opportunity, and was proud the Thams were pleased with my work.”

The artwork was named “When We Were Very Young,” and hangs in the Thams’ kitchen. Each of their children has a copy, preserved for future generations. Mandy praised, “Kudos to Mr. Ritter and Justin for making this all come together!”