Oakdale Community School students found their inner artistic talent with the help of muralist Rhonda Darling McDonald as they painted a mural of an Oakdale sunset on the bare walls of their Third Avenue schoolroom, Wednesday, Feb. 9.
The idea for the mural came from McDonald as she happened to pass by the school one day while shopping the downtown area.
The walls were mint green and completely clashed with the tone of the downtown shops, making it stand out — and not in a good way.
“I came in and said, ‘You need something for your walls.’ That mint green had to go,” McDonald said.
Teacher Laurie James was thrilled to have an artist with so much experience take an interest and readily agreed that the walls needed freshening up.
James had the mint walls covered with a neutral beige and then McDonald took a handful of students who’d expressed an interest in art and taught them how to create a mural.
“They’ve been such good helpers,” McDonald said of the students who readily took to the project.
The students earned community service credit — a requirement for their graduation — for their part in the task as well as had fun doing it.
James said, “They’re also gaining a skill they might be able to use in a career.”
Emily Campbell, 17, was excited to be a part of the project, saying, “I’ve been doing art since I can remember. It helps me get my mind off things and I can express myself. My emotions come out in my art.”
Campbell hopes to parlay her love of art into a career in anime.
The students finished two murals, one for each wall and the work took two days to finish.
“I was shocked at how good it turned out,” said Emilee Freisheim. “I was proud to be a part of it.”
McDonald said the project filled her with a sense of community. “I’m always looking for ways to make Oakdale prettier. The mint green was hard on the eyes. It’s nice to have something finished.”
The plan is to frame the mural in wood trim and set aside an art section for the students’ art projects.