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 Seniors brighten Rutherford Elementary School

Dec. 12, 2016

MHS senior Liz Martinez prepares to paint muralA fresh coat of sunny yellow paint, bold hallway murals and silhouettes of children jumping, learning and playing are among the colorful changes that greet students as they enter Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School.

The improvements were provided courtesy of Rutherford Principal Michelle Knowlton and Special Education teacher Michael Ross and his senior students.

All Monticello High School seniors must complete a senior project for their government class as a requirement for graduation. The students work in groups on a project of their choosing, which generally has an element of community service.

This group’s focus, Mr. Ross said, was to promote art in the Rutherford Elementary School.

“Preparing for and carrying out the project really brought us together as a class,” Jaquan Poole-Porter said. “It was a nice way to get out of the classroom but still work together.”

What began as a community service project at Rutherford Elementary evolved into a group of seniors on a mission to make a positive impact on their school community.

“A lot of us were former students at Rutherford,” Liz Martinez said. “We were happy to have the opportunity to leave a lasting contribution in our old school.”

Mr. Ross’ students say that they hope the brighter environment at Rutherford Elementary will encourage happiness among students and staff.

“[The new paintings] make a whole lot of difference, Carina Quackenbushsaid. “It will give the kids a lot more pride in their school and might make them feel more excited to be there.”

These new murals are just one part of an ongoing beautification project at Rutherford Elementary. To date, the school has welcomed countless murals, a playground makeover, new benches, and an edible garden.

“The younger students are really enjoying their new colorful school,” Noel Hernadez said. “When we revealed our painting, they clapped and gave us hugs …. It really made us happy to see them so happy.”