Story, photos and video by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
The 108 students of the Summer English as a Second Language Academy (SESLA) were excited last night to unveil the new expansive mural they painted as a gift to Scarlett Middle School.
Local artist Mary Thiefels, who was one of six artists who held workshops for the students during the three-week academy, said the mural will be a gift for decades to come.
“The theme of the mural is a culmination of the last three weeks of building an understanding of identity through public art,” she said. “These young people studied symbols, and in my workshop they were able to design their own symbols and a lot of that was brought into the mural. So they’re collaborating for the first time on a large public art project, learning and building within their community, and then giving something to the Scarlett-Mitchell community and all those who will see it.”
Thiefels took their ideas, drew the design, had it approved, before the students then painted it in acrylics.
The title of the mural is “The Color of our Dreams.”
Earlier in the evening, students were excited to share with their parents what they’ve learned at SESLA this month, where the focus was art, identity, and social activism.
Lead teacher Katie Gibson said the academy is empowering for students.
“Our biggest goal is really to prepare students for the next year and to help them feel like leaders in the classroom,” she said. “Next year they’ll be able to walk into the classroom with more skills in the areas of comprehension, reading, writing, listening and speaking.”