Monday, May 30, 2016

"Student murals to grace vacant storefront windows ahead of beautification contest"

From The Journal


"RACINE — It’s a Thursday afternoon in teacher Damian Knuth’s sixth-grade classroom at 21st Century Preparatory School, 1220 Mound Ave., and a group of students are bent over large sheets of blank newsprint.

"Pencils in hand, they’re thinking long and hard about the stories they want to tell Racine, and the wider world, about the work they have been doing: learning about the local ecosystems, and how to keep them healthy.

Melissa Kaprelian-Becker
"The posters primarily depict projects that the students recently engaged in during an environmental service learning day, like water testing and the pulling of invasive species.

"'It helps us get more into our community, instead of just staying inside … and I like drawing,' said 12-year-old Adamariz Aranda.

"The posters are helping the students to express what those projects meant, but they’ll soon be serving another, possibly larger purpose by helping to beautify the city this summer.

"The mini-murals will soon grace the windows of several vacant Downtown storefronts ahead of a visit this July from judges from the international Communities in Bloom competition.

Going global 

"The City of Racine, along with other communities east of Interstate 94, will be competing in the contest this year under the newly minted banner Discover Racine. Racine and the greater Racine area have been competing in similar beautification competitions since 2012, when it first entered the America in Bloom contest.

"Ever since snaring the Criteria Award for Overall Impression in 2012, the civic group has been working to step up its game.

"The committee took a break from entering any contests in 2015, but this year’s Communities in Bloom will put them in direct competition with entrants from North America, Europe and Asia. The entrants will be judged on a community’s tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape, and floral displays.

"Melissa Kaprelian-Becker, the group’s longtime leader, said committee members first got the itch to enter an international competition after it was suggested by judges from America in Bloom in 2012 and 2013. She also thought the added challenge would get even more people involved.

"'Sometimes people need that little boost to get involved. And when they feel like they are involved with something, it motivates them,' Kaprelian-Becker said."

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