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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Canoga Park

Mural Dedicated at Middle School

October 13, 2000|ROBERTO J. MANZANO

Sergio Rodriguez had a simpler view of art before he helped paint a 125-foot-long mural at Christopher Columbus Middle School.

"I thought drawing was just pencil and paper, but it's more than that," said the 13-year-old, who attends Columbus. "It's really putting your mind and hard work into it. You have to be precise."

Sergio drew a flying car for a portion of the mural that depicts a future city. Students, teachers, parents and school district officials gathered Thursday at Columbus to formally dedicate the mural.

Principal Cynthia A. Augustine had the idea for the "Explorers in Any Age" mural, which has a timeline depicting the arrival of Christopher Columbus, Albert Einstein, computers in schools and the space age. Art teacher Carol Barham, artist Susan Bennett and about 40 students worked on the mural for four months.

The $5,000 project completed in June was paid for by the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and the nonprofit Valley Cultural Center. Barham said it was no problem motivating students.

"Sometimes when teaching art, I really have to push them to appreciate art," Barham said. "This was really special. They began to see how good it was for the school and for themselves."

Although they got paint all over their shoes and clothes, the students had fun, Bennett said. Once, when she and the kids became too boisterous, another teacher told them to be quiet.

"We all got in trouble together," said Bennett of Woodland Hills. "It was great."

Mexican artist Diego Rivera's colorful murals inspired the bright colors of Columbus Middle School's project, said Bennett, who has painted murals for 20 years. Students used acrylic paints and workers applied a special coating to protect the work from vandalism.

"I expect this to look like this for 25 years," Bennett said. "It gives the kids a sense of participation, like they own this place."

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