As Avalon students embark on their final mural projects of the scholastic year, one particular student is enthusiastic about completing the Hawaiian Avenue Elementary School piece.
Valeria Torres has spent her life in and around Wilmington and the Harbor Area. Some of her fondest memories revolve around the fun and innocent times she had at Hawaiian Avenue on the West side of Wilmington. She was obviously one of the first students to volunteer, then, to go to Hawaiian and provide a colorful mural as part of the Murals for Motivation class. I could see her reminiscing about her time at the elementary school the minute she stepped onto the small campus, and it was a heartwarming moment to witness.
Valeria started off thinking that the murals class was going to be like any other class at Avalon – a mandatory way to catch up on credits and raise her class status. As time progressed, however, she began to see that with each change made to a wall at our worksites, came a change in her outlook on the class. While she does admit that murals are hard work, she also confides that they are a fun (and legal!) way of sharing her artistic talent with her community.
Along with excitement for the class, Valeria has acquired an appreciation for what community service can be. She no longer sees community service as merely a way to deal with court appointed punishments; it has transformed into a way for her to give back to the children in her community, at her alma mater, who look up to the cool high school students coming onto their campuses each week to paint them a special work of art. She hopes to provide a mural for Hawaiian that instills pride in students, and hopes that these younger kids will pay forward the community outreach that they see the Avalon students completing on their campuses.
Rosie Parra // YDA Tutor