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CULTURE OF CHARACTER: PCHS uses grants to create murals

In August, Pike County High School was selected with 200 schools in the state to receive the Alabama Bicentennial Schools Grant. The $2,000 grants were awarded to involve students in working in their schools and communities on bicentennial projects that would have a positive and lasting impact on their communities.

The schools were selected from a pool of nearly 400 proposals. An additional 56 schools received honorable mentions and $500 grants.

Carrie McLaney, PCHS art teacher, said receiving an Alabama Bicentennial School Grant was an honor and was treated as such by her students.

“I was excited to receive the grant and my students were just as excited,” McLaney said. “This was an opportunity for us to do something creative and inspiring and lasting.”

McLaney said the idea for the Bicentennial school project was for her art students to create murals for different locations throughout the school. The murals would be colorful and meaningful and enhance the locations where they were painted.

“The PCHS mural project is titled, ‘Building a Culture of Character,’ and that is our goal at Pike County High School – to build a culture of character — a culture of creative and positive thinkers.”

Four murals have been completed at PCHS, in the cafeteria, the seventh- and eighth-grade building hallway and the girl’s restroom and the visitors’ restroom in the gym. Other murals are also planned for Banks Middle School and in downtown Brundidge at the One Stop Center and either the Tupper Lightfoot Memorial Library or Pizza Palace.

The mural in the school cafeteria is titled “Feed Your Mind” and features the high school’s bulldog mascot and a series of bulldog paw prints and color bands that connect the cafeteria walls.

“I made suggestions to the students and they took it from there, adding their own ideas,” McLaney said. “They did an outstanding job of getting the point across that feeding our minds is as important as feeding our bodies.”

The walls of the seventh- and eighth-grade building are a cascade of triangular shapes and colors and the painted floors have the Jackson Pollock look of abstract expression.

“The students worked long hours, after school and on two weekends to complete the wall murals,” McLaney said. “The taping of the triangles alone was very time consuming but the student didn’t seem to mind. They were very involved. Just looking down the hall, it’s easy to see how much time and effort went into theses murals.”
The murals in the girls’ restroom are what one might expect in a “teenager’s powder room.” The walls are girl colors and with catchy sayings and even a quote from Marilyn Monroe.

“The girls really like what has been done,” McLaney said. “It’s colorful and includes words for thought. It’s different. It’s not your usual girls’ restroom.”

McLaney said 35 students worked on the murals and each mural began with an end in mind.

“We greatly appreciate the opportunity to be one of the 200 Alabama schools that were selected for the grants,” she said. “We are not finished. We still have three and maybe four murals to do. We are excited to get started on them. This has been a very rewarding project for us and we hope that others enjoy the murals as much as we enjoyed doing them.”

Launched by Governor Ivey in December 2017, the Alabama Bicentennial Schools Initiative encouraged all public, private, and homeschool students and teachers to participate in the celebration of Alabama’s 200th anniversary of statehood in 2019. In early 2018, all K-12 schools in Alabama were invited to submit a proposal that engages in outreach and improvement projects to connect their classrooms with their local communities.