A new coat of paint is nice enough, but a brand-new mural is even better.
At Mark Twain Elementary School (MTE), several volunteers recently completed a colorful new mural on the outside wall of a classroom next to the track.
“The mural project actually was an idea that was kind of generated between several staff members; we just started kind of talking about it throughout the summer,” MTE teacher Sara Tutthill said. “I’m in charge of student leadership at Mark Twain, and the student council group decided that they would like to take it on and would like to raise the money.”
Most of the funds were raised through the school’s annual jog-a-thon, which takes place every fall, Tutthill said.
“It was a schoolwide fundraiser, a K through eight jog-a-thon that we did that raised the funds for that particular mural,” she said.
Local artist Kacy Barnett donated her time to paint the mural, and several MTE students also pitched in.
“We actually had several seventh- and eighth-grade students that actually stayed after school and helped,” Tutthill said. “So, it wasn’t just a local artist; it was also student-generated as well.”
The mural is hopefully the first step in a series of campus beautification projects, Tutthill said.
“I’d like to talk to the Bret Harte Art Department and see which seniors would like to come over, and we plan on working in the bathrooms and doing some painting in there and having students from Bret Harte do those paintings,” she said.
Tutthill said that she would like to see more murals with positive messages at the school.
“The mural that we have currently, there’s a lot of words on it, and it’s mostly kind of an anti-bully message,” she said. “And the next one that we’re kind of looking at is also kind of like along that kind of lines, just being a good human being and kind to each other no matter our differences.”
Megan Gutierrez is another staff member who has helped spearhead the project. She said that the grey-and-blue walls of the campus had room for improvement.
“You know, you just work someplace, you want it to look nice, you want to feel good about where you work,” she said. “If we’re adults and we walk around and we feel gloomy, then how do these kids feel?”
The group was inspired by the murals at Bret Harte High School, Gutierrez said.
“Having walked around Bret Harte and seeing all of the murals and the cool stuff that they have, I just feel like it makes the whole atmosphere on campus feel way more inviting,” she said. “There’s a handful of us on this campus that are trying to achieve that look and feel over here as well.”
Gutierrez said she hoped the completion of the mural would spur interest in and support for other projects.
“It’s like a domino effect,” she said. “People see something and they like it, and then other people are wanting to get involved.”
Tutthill said that she would love to see community members contribute to upcoming projects.
“It would be awesome to get community support,” she said.
Those interested in getting involved can contact the school directly, Tutthill said.
“They would have to contact our front office, and they could donate to the beautification fund, or they could donate to the student council,” she said. “We would take any kinds of donations. I know that for all of our projects, the paint supplies were bought locally, so it would be awesome even if local businesses wanted to donate.”
Tutthill said that the goal of the projects is to create a more welcoming environment on campus.
“We believe that you feel better when you walk onto a campus that inspires you, and looks and feels like home,” she said.
Tutthill said that she would like to see more local artists get involved in upcoming projects.
“If there’s other people in the community that have art skills that would like to come in to work with students, that would be amazing,” she said.
Those interested in getting involved can contact MTE at 736-6533.