‘Tired Of The Negativity,’ School’s Foreign Language Club Participates In Mural Project

‘Tired Of The Negativity,’ School’s Foreign Language Club Participates In Mural Project
sdhs mural group looks over designs

BERLIN – People need to be kinder.

That’s the message a group of Stephen Decatur High School students are hoping to share with a traveling mural project.

“They wanted to do something to open people’s eyes,” said Darlene Idoni-McCann, a French teacher at Stephen Decatur. “We are tired of the negativity.”

It was more than two years ago that students in Idoni-McCann’s foreign language club first started talking about things they could do to change the world. They were saddened by the riots in Ferguson and, closer to home, upset about misleading media reports of a race war at Stephen Decatur. It was then that meetings of the foreign language club took on the theme of “Save the World.” Idoni-McCann said it was simply her students’ desire to be proactive and do something positive.

“Doing nothing is the same thing as saying it’s okay,” she said. “It’s up to them to make things better.”

Last year, the club’s roughly 20 student members put positive messages on bulletin boards throughout the high school. This year, they wanted to do something for a larger audience. The idea of a mural came up, followed by the concept of a traveling mural.

“We thought with the mural on panels we could hit more people,” Idoni-McCann said.

Students came up with images for three murals. The first depicts a person playing a saxophone with multicolored notes emanating from it, interposed over a map of the world. It will include a quote about how every person, just like every instrument in an orchestra, contributes to society.

The second mural, labeled “Pay it Forward” by students, will be made up of numerous brightly colored puzzle pieces, each featuring a scene showing someone doing a good deed, from feeding the homeless to helping someone up.

The third mural, developed with the help of Decatur gradudate Ian Postley, features a graffiti theme and the message “Where will the children play?” to remind passersby of the environment’s importance. Postley, one of Idoni-McCann’s former pupils, stopped by her classroom for a visit one day and quickly offered his support to the project. Idoni-McCann’s current students weren’t surprised, noting the impact the French teacher has on all of her students.

“Once you’re one of Madame’s kids you don’t leave,” senior Stella Cunningham said.

According to Cunningham, once the foreign language club had decided on the scenes for each of the three murals, its members went to work raising the $3,000 it would take to accomplish the project.

“We really wanted to get it done,” she said, adding that the seniors in the group wanted to have the project complete before they graduated.

And so within the past month they solicited donations, held a bake sale and hosted a fundraiser at the Decatur Diner. Thanks to community support, they raised what they needed and ordered the panels this week. They’re anxious to begin painting them as soon as they arrive.

“We’ll be here every day after school,” Cunningham said.

At this point, she and her fellow students are eager to spread awareness of the project and show the community that they are doing what they can to make the world a better place.

“It’s genuine,” Cunningham said. “It came from all of us coming together.”

Student Patrick Reid said the project illustrated how committed to the cause the foreign language club was. The students that stay with Idoni-McCann after school aren’t just doing it to enhance their resumes.

“This is for people who have a vision and are willing to work to make it happen,” he said.

Soloman Efergan agreed and pointed out that while some student groups never got projects past the brainstorming stage, this one was quick to move to action.

“I think it’s so cool how this club actually does stuff,” he said.

Students are pictured after a recent fundraiser at Decatur Diner.

Students are pictured after a recent fundraiser at Decatur Diner.

Student Ashley Ferraz said the mural project also showed the community, and other Decatur students, that teenagers weren’t too young to make a difference. Darrien Ross said it would remind people that every decision mattered.

“One of our goals is to teach people that they shouldn’t be proud to be apathetic,” she said.

Alexis Holloway agreed.

“Maybe it’ll help people dig deeper into who they are as a person,” she said.

Once the murals are complete, they’ll be put on display by the Art League of Ocean City. After that, the students are hoping they’ll be moved throughout the community to share their positive messages with society.

“It’s about making the world better,” Idoni-McCann said. “You’ve got to start somewhere. This is our grassroots effort.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.