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Inspirational Murals Update Schoolyard

September 16, 2000|GRACE E. JANG

More than 600 Wilbur Avenue Elementary School students and teachers played a hand Friday in revitalizing the appearance of a campus built in the 1950s.

Terri Peretz, a parent and member of Wilbur's Booster Club, initiated the project last year in an effort to add a splash of color to the school's dilapidated playground, she said.

Peretz, a former teacher, hired artists to paint 13 theme murals on the school's outdoor walls and basketball boards. The "Walls of Reflection" include paintings with inspirational messages, such as "aim high," "soar" and "imagine," against sky and mountain backgrounds. Students and teachers adorned the murals with multicolored handprints.

"I wanted to give the kids something they could be proud of, something they could say was their own," Peretz said. "The school is very diverse, so I planned for a rainbow on one of the murals to reflect that."

Peretz funded the project with a $5,000 grant from the Los Angeles Board of Public Works. ICI Dulux/Sinclair Paint in Tarzana provided nearly $1,200 in donated material, including the company's best paint.

"So it shouldn't peel," said Manny Araujo, the store manager.

Before the mural project, the basketball boards, which staff members said are nearly as old as the school, had to be repainted every year.

Judy Hergesheimer, the school's interim principal, said she is impressed by the teamwork.

"It's unique to see such a large number of students and teachers involved together in making a mural project," she said. "It's great for the children."

Keaira Vernon, 8, of Los Angeles, a Wilbur Avenue Elementary third-grader, said she's excited about the prospect of leaving behind a permanent legacy.

"When I'm 50 years old, my hand's still going to be here," she said.

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