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 Students Create Mural at New JCCS Campus

Students at Innovations Academy of Empowerment added some color, unity, and pride to their new campus recently by creating a large mural there.

Many of the 120 students at the Vista Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) campus worked on the project, which took about three weeks to complete.

“It’s a mural to represent what we’re about and what the school’s about,” one of the students who worked on the mural said. “I’d say we did a pretty good job.”

They came up with the ideas and painted the wall with the help of Saul Figueroa, a representative with the Art Miles Mural Project, which promotes global peace and unity through murals. Figueroa focused on the students’ career goals as well as other inspirational messages and images.

“We call this mural an act of love,” he said. “It’s very powerful.”

Volunteers from Cal State San Marcos also helped students with the mural by studying historical and cultural elements with them and taking students on a field trip to Chicano Park in San Diego, which contains several outdoor murals. The planning took more than two months, on and off.

Originally, the plan was to only paint a small portion of the wall that wraps around two basketball courts at the back of the campus, but the students were so enthusiastic about the project that they managed to cover the whole wall.

Throughout the process, students bonded and came out of their shells, Figueroa said.

“It brought them joy,” he said, “and it brought some big old smiles.”

To celebrate the accomplishment and showcase the mural, JCCS educators held a ribbon-cutting ceremony July 1. The event featured speeches by students, teachers, administrators and community partners as well as the unveiling of the name, Innovations Academy of Empowerment, which students helped pick.