One Student’s Painting Changes the School Community
We’ve all heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” well one painting at a Fayette County middle school is worth words, tears, joy, and inspiration after a former student took it upon herself to change the environment with a few cans of a paint, some paintbrushes, and a big heart.
Due to some personal struggles, Alaina Lester, a former Whitewater High student, toiled throughout her middle and high school career, eventually turning to her school community for help, specifically Tanji Tucker – her school counselor. With the support of the school system, Lester turned her life around and successfully graduated high school, and is now enrolled at the University of West Georgia majoring in art with a minor in psychology.
To give back to the very community that helped change her life, Lester decided to start volunteering with special needs students at Bennett’s Mill Middle, but noticed that the handicap bathroom designed for these students was dull and uninviting.
After seeing the sadness of the students going into the bathroom, Lester decided to put her art skills to the test and create a mural on the bathroom wall so that students felt loved, appreciated and welcomed into a place that is not so exciting for some students.
“The original bathroom made students feel as if they were in a hospital room, so I wanted to create an environment that would cheer up the children, and distract them from that fact that they were being helped to go to the restroom because they are unable to go by themselves,” Lester says.
Determined to finish in time for the new school year, Lester poured her heart and soul into the project, spending most of her free time completing the mural; all while being a full-time student and working 40-hours a week.
In addition to the mural, Lester also created privacy screens with words of affirmation on them and donated various bin organizers.
Tanji Tucker, who is now a school counselor at Bennett’s Mill, says, “This is more than a project, it is a testament to the importance of looking back to help those behind you as you move towards your own goals. As her former counselor, I am so incredibly proud of Alaina and all that she has accomplished.”