Pride shone from their eyes and came through in their voice as the students at Innovations Academy of Empowerment talked about the colorful new mural they created at their school.
At a ribbon-cutting celebration in July, they spoke of how the experience bonded them and built their self-confidence while showing the community what they're all about.
Many of the 120 students at the Vista
Juvenile Court and Community Schools campus worked about three weeks to finish the large mural with the help of volunteers from Cal State San Marcos and Saul Figueroa, from the
Art Miles Mural Project.
Some of the students who participated recently shared their thoughts on the mural and what it means for their school.
"The mural was very inspirational because it gave us an opportunity to express ourselves. The mural is something that represents us as a whole school and will always be there representing the whole school for generations to come. It will remain as a symbol of our hard work and dedication, because we are not criminals but kids who make mistakes like everybody else, and we deserve a second chance to prove people wrong. With this mural, we got an opportunity to show this community what we're really made of. After this project, we united as one and we all became friends, good friends."
"When I was working on the wall, I felt free. I was able to paint how I felt and what I wanted to present. This mural came together, from a blank wall to an amazing piece of art that represents a piece of our culture and environment."
"A mural means a lot of things to people. It can be a way of inspiration to people or something to push people to strive for success. A mural makes places look like they're full of life. Making a mural brings a community together. If more people were to work on murals, then more people would get to know each other. Murals make the world a better place to live."
"The mural project has helped me as a student because it helped build trust between our companions at this school. This mural project shows that we can be a normal school and deserve to be once again trusted to be at a normal school."
"As a student, the mural project means a lot. It means creativity and inspiration. While working on this mural, everybody had to get along. We worked together as a team to put this mural together, and I think if we weren't capable of working together, getting along, or being ourselves, the mural wouldn't have come out as good. I'm very thankful for the opportunity they gave me to work on this mural. It gave me a chance to be free and just be me, which most kids don't have the chance to do. This is a great school and I wouldn't want to change it."
"The mural project brought our school together. If it wasn't for this project, I don't think I would have met half of the kids here. Teamwork is what made this mural a successful project. Saul taught me patience, and he always kept reminding me to not give up. It was a huge motivation and boosted my confidence a lot. I'm glad we all got together and finished what we started."
"We accomplished something we didn't even know we could do. It feels nice to know someone out there doesn't just think we are losers who got expelled. Saul gave us a chance and listened to us."
"Students had the opportunity to make their parents proud. The students also had the opportunity to open their hearts through the mural. We had fun."