By Shannon Bentley – On Saturday, October 24th, 2015, my fellow corps members and I actively participated in our very first annual service day of the year. We had the opportunity along with other neighboring volunteers from the Milwaukee community to paint murals in the Wisconsin Conservatory of Lifelong Learning, also known as WCLL. WCLL is the first K-12 school in Wisconsin, and it has the chance to live up to its reputation in Milwaukee. Make a Difference Day allows everyone in the community and in the City Year family to come together as one large group of people in order to bring joy to the lives of students in public schools.
One of these joys is mural painting.
Murals give life to the schools every day, so that students can be proud of the school that they attend. The murals are also a means of inspiration for the students, because we want our students to be able to be influenced by positive role models and make wise decisions based on those who inspire them. City Year was able to paint these influences on the walls of WCLL, such as quotes from Malcolm X, Maya Angelou and even the first lady Michelle Obama. The walls even illustrated basketball players Stephen Curry and Skylar Diggins to encourage the ball players in school.
There’s more! The first floor was covered with children’s books such as my favorites, The Hungry Caterpillar and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for the elementary school children. Lastly, the third floor gave high school students an idea of where they should attend college like Howard University, Marquette University, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Spelman College. I could go on and on about the wonderful murals that were painted by everyone, but the emotion of the event is where it hit us the most.
We felt those emotions of Principal Patton and knew that we were making a difference. She stated to us that we should not be the ones thanking her for allowing us to come in the school and paint – but she should be the one thanking us for choosing their school for the opportunity. She almost broke in to tears speaking her words. We could do nothing else but support her emotions and excitement by doing our best throughout the day.
MPS students go through many downfalls in their life, whether if it’s a personal encounter or an educational factor. Our students are mostly affected in their lives every day. The best feeling is knowing that someone cared deeply enough to take time out of their Saturday to come to their school and beautify it with motivation. These students were on fall break and knowing that they are going to be excited about what has happened to their school is the best feeling in the world. Everyone should take advantage of the chance to make a difference in their community because we can all say that we are for social justice, but the best justice is becoming active and getting things done.