Summer school students at Woodland Intermediate School will be the first to climb over a new mural recently completed by their artistic peers and two district teachers.
The mural, painted on the Gurnee school's 31-foot long rock climbing wall, depicts the journey of the student as they grow up in the district. Each of the district's schools are depicted on a background of green grass, plants and nature. School buses make their way down a curvy, tree-lined street.
Susan Banks, an adaptive physical education teacher, said she has seen many students go up to the mural and identify their current and former school buildings and have fun "I spying" the many familiar structures, trees, flowers and wildlife painted on the wall.
Banks and Kelly Eggleston, an art teacher at Woodland Middle School, painted the majority of the mural. It was a labor of love for the two, who volunteered their time. They spent two Sundays a month together on the painting throughout the school year.
Banks said it was fun to see the students' reaction to the mural as it grew throughout the year. She said the students could climb on it right away because the paint dried overnight.
A few of Eggleston's art students who were also members of the National Junior Honor Society contributed to the project.
"They were instrumental in adding to the playground as well as doing trees and ponds," Banks said of the students.
The mural also features a yellow plane dragging a red sign that says ROAR, which is the district's motto and stands for respect, ownership, acceptance and being ready to learn.
Luckily for the artists, the job didn't require ladders or scaffolding. Banks said the most they ever needed was a folding chair to work on the top of the mural.
"The highest hand hold on the climbing wall is maybe 10 cinder blocks high," Banks said. "I'm 5 feet 4 inches, and if I reach arm straight I can touch the top one."
The climbing wall might not have been built in the intermediate school gym if not for Banks. She applied for and received a $1,000 grant called the Trustmark Impact Educator Grant in December 2015. The wall was installed in March 2017.