The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

Transforming Walls into Canvases:

The Impact of Student Murals on School Spirit and Unity

Stepping into LHS, one is certain to notice the murals that adorn its walls, each carefully designed and painted by students. They dance throughout the history, language, science, and art hallways, acting as a symbol of our school’s spirit and identity. These murals are passed by every day, seen by hundreds yet never in the front of anyone’s mind, never considered for more than a moment. Our school’s murals are more than pleasant paintings; they transform the walls that divide us into canvases that unite us.

According to art teacher Mr. Smith, painting murals in the art hallway began over ten years ago. Some of the murals were created by teachers, but many were painted by students. The school’s art club contributes to beautifying our school’s walls. Each mural begins with an idea: something meaningful and carefully chosen while also aesthetically pleasing. Most pertain to the subject of the hallway they are painted in, like Martin Luther King Jr. in the history hallway and animals and cells in the science hallway.

I am painting a part of a mural in the art hallway of a woman surrounded by flowers. It feels amazing to know that a piece of me will remain in this school far after I’ve graduated. Each mural holds a memory of a big idea and its implementation into reality. It carries a part of the artist’s mind and puts it on display for all to see and begin to understand. My goal is fulfilled if my art speaks to even just one person and gets them to stop and look. 

My process is fairly simple and similar to many others — first, I find inspiration from somewhere like another artist or on a website such as Pinterest. After forming an idea (for this project, I began with an artist and a flower I like), I make a thumbnail sketch. A thumbnail sketch is a small sketch to plan out the composition of the final piece. Once finished, I break down the composition into smaller squares to make the transfer to the wall more accurate. I use simple shapes to create a sketch on the wall, then block out the basic colors while keeping the entire layout in mind. Finally, I begin to paint, adding colors to form shadows and highlights that make the piece come alive.

It is quite easy to overlook the significant psychological impact of colors and murals — many studies support the positive impact of color on attention, memory, mood, and learning. Nearly every classroom has its front wall painted a dull color compared to the surrounding white walls, which is enough color to draw attention to it without being too bright and distracting. This is useful because classrooms need students’ focus and attention, but outside of the classrooms in the halls is different. In the three minutes we have to move from one class to another, we get a few minutes to rest our minds. The hallways are a great place to fill with color, as it acts as a mental break before returning to class. Color is a great way to separate work time from break time, which is what students need in order to continue being productive.

Outside of school, murals have been proven to improve residents’ perception of their neighborhood, even reducing health risks. One study found that murals “stimulate narratives of cultural and community connection, beauty, resilience, and hope” and help to bring communities together. The Philadelphia mural Finding the Light Within focuses on suicide prevention, and brought together over 1,200 people who had lost someone they knew. Murals hold the amazing ability to bring communities together, including our school’s.

Many around our school notice the impact of the murals on the school’s environment. One student stated that the murals “give the bland walls some life and history beyond just plain walls that we have to walk by every day.” She notes that her favorite mural is the painting of a door in the history wing, which has a window to a landscape behind it. Although this mural does not relate to history, it transports the viewer to another world and refreshes the mind, readying us for our next class. 

The lack of murals in the English hallway creates a strange void in our school. Each and every other hallway has at least one mural, yet the English hallway is nearly devoid of them — its only mural is outside Mr. Cangemi’s room at the end of the hallway, which is not visible from the rest of the hallway.

When asked about the murals inside his classroom, Mr. Cangemi replied, “I love them. I love displaying student art.” They are visible when walking into the classroom, which sets a tone of relaxation when entering his class but are not distracting during the lesson when students face away from them. Murals in classrooms give students a sense of ownership over their learning environment.

Some question whether some murals should be updated or added to. As our school’s culture and climate changes, the reflections of our student body should change along with it. One solution would be to add more to the blank space around the murals, which would preserve the original artwork while adding to it and keeping it updated. Canvases could also be utilized around the school to be easily changed or moved, although they would be less permanent. You may be thinking that they could be damaged, but that would create a more trusting environment. Giving students the chance to prove that they can be trusted would build integrity in our school, which is one of our school’s values. Another addition could be artificial plants, which improve mental health and reduce stress.

The murals in our school are more than decorations — they encourage students to stop and enjoy the works of art and build school spirit. They inspire students to try their hand at art and understand the importance of art. Our murals are a way of claiming our school as our own, reflecting who we are as a whole.


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  • K

    Kelsie B.Jun 6, 2024 at 10:19 pm

    I didn’t even notice how blank the English hallway is. I truly think it needs something now that I can’t not notice that.