A smiling Cheshire cat will greet the youngest students of Manhattan Beach's Pacific Elementary School when they return to classes Monday.
Dumbo the elephant, Mother Goose and Humpty Dumpty will be smiling down from their places on the walls of the pre-kindergarten building, as well.
"These little children will come back to school on Monday and see this, and they'll be ecstatic," said Principal Christine A. Norvell, admiring the newly painted Alice's Adventures in Wonderland mural.
There is nothing like a surprise, and so most of the 60 5-year-old students were not told ahead of time that the pre-kindergarten building would be refurbished Friday by about 90 people--parents, teachers and a large group of employees of Xerox Corp.
As part of its Community Involvement Program, the company gave the school a $2,400 grant to improve the city's oldest school building--circa 1915--as well as the people to do it.
The group put murals on the outside walls, painted the pupils' chairs and the inside of the three-classroom building, made minor repairs and built a train engine for the playground.
"The company pays for the day, but I think most of us would come anyway," said Xerox programmer Jeff Levine of West Los Angeles, who worked on the plywood train. "It's a community project; it's good for the community; we're part of the community, and it's also better than going to work."
Joe Gresko, a Xerox community involvement coordinator whose daughter is in the pre-kindergarten program, said the project was the fifth done by the El Segundo office this year.
Emilie Spratt, parent of a pre-kindergarten student, said she volunteered for the project "because I expect the very best from (the school) in educating my children, and if there's something I can do to help them, I will."
Levine said: "Everyone wanted to make a contribution, I really believe that. I heard people complaining, 'I don't like to paint; I don't like to do this,' but they're all here. What they wouldn't do at home, they're doing here."
First-grade teacher Stana Edgington stopped to admire one of the murals before leaving the campus after a day of conferences with parents. "It gives you such a great feeling," she said, "especially after a day like this."