When Elizabethtown Area High School reopens for the new academic year later this month, 2019 graduates Gracie Mummau and Corrie Baker will have already started college.
Yet just beyond the main entrance to their alma mater, in the first-floor hallway that was home to health classrooms last year, learning support this year, remains a tangible reminder of their belief that all students must know that they are valued — not only in this school year but also in the years to come.
Their 10-by-30-foot “You Are Loved’’ mural was conceived through an assignment in teacher Shane Kargo’s “Mind & Body Semester Project,’’ which is designed to have a positive impact on the school and/or the community.
Students conduct research, create an assessment rubric, set guidelines, develop a blueprint, communicate with teachers and school officials, and organize time during class and beyond school hours to work on their vision, Kargo wrote in an email.
Previous projects have included a community 5k run/walk on the school campus, proceeds benefiting a nonprofit focused on the improvement of mental/physical health, and a Twitter page highlighting the accomplishments of former students, according to Kargo.
As Corrie and Gracie eyed their project, and the hallway, they agreed that the walls needed color.
But there was more to their initiative than paint.
“Our goal for the mural is to help put smiles on people’s faces and help remind them that even if they are going through a hard time,’’ Corrie said in an email, “that they are loved by the people around them.’’
What began for Corrie and Gracie in the fall, did not come to fruition until the end of their senior year. They researched similar projects nationwide. And while they and their peers thought the mural idea was a good one, they surveyed Elizabethtown teachers to make sure they felt the same way. Then they presented their idea to Principal Maura Hobson.
She approved the plan, even providing funds to purchase project materials. As Corrie and Gracie explained, they initially wanted to secure a professional artist for the work, but the cost was prohibitive. They realized that they, and others, would need to provide the commitment, expertise and muscle.
So it was on to sketching and measuring and designing and wall taping and, of course, painting. And more painting. They got help from seniors Katie Bomboy, who designed the mural, and Rebecca Epps, who helped to paint it.
Soon, an empty wall began its transformation into a colorful student affirmation.
Corrie and Gracie balanced the demands of the project with schoolwork, extracurricular activities and jobs. Corrie played lacrosse and worked at Kmart; Gracie worked at Masonic Village and served on the spring musical stage crew.
“Toast’’ at the end, Gracie said, they got the job done.
The young women are preparing to begin studies in secondary education and history the last week of August, Gracie at Millersville University and Corrie at Kutztown.
“I am so proud of our students and the Mind and Body Club for finding a way to create positivity within the school and students,’’ the principal said in an email. “The mural creates an opportunity for every student to walk by it and feel a sense of belonging within the high school community.’’
The support will also come from those the students cannot see. “Even,’’ as Gracie said, “strangers who graduated.’’