Sunnyside students greeted with murals showing their diversity

Students at Sunnyside High School were welcomed with a big surprise on Monday morning.

When students walked through campus they were greeted with huge murals. The murals are images of their classmates and teachers.

"When I came here, you know, it lifted my spirits, you know Mondays, nobody really likes Mondays," said freshman Davri Harris. "It's like I had this really warm feeling inside making me want to be at school. I like that, today is going to be a good day."

More than 100 students help make this happen, spending hundreds of hours snapping images, printing, and then pasting the images on the walls.

Digital Photography and Marketing instructor Tamela Ryatt said many of those pictures are embracing the "we are all one" theme, which is similar to last year.

"This year they decided to focus on their humanity. So there are a lot of 'I am' messages. There are messages that say 'I am happy', 'I am strong', 'I am brave'," she explained.

Ryatt explained students also pasted up larger murals that combined two different people to show-off their similarities and differences.

As students and teachers walked through the gates they loved seeing the guerrilla-style artwork on the walls, especially the faces smiling back. Enrique Villanueva, one of the digital photography and market students, said that's the reaction they were hoping for.

"We wanted to have smiles all over the board and to show it doesn't matter your ethnicity or the color of your skin or even if you have a disability, we come together as one and build something special like we did," he explained.

This year students were able to add color to their murals.

Over 5,000 square feet of images covered the walls, this doubling the amount from last year. Students also used about 100 gallons of wheat paste to hold the images in place.

However, on Monday morning when the students got to school their main mural began to peel. Students were expecting the artwork to last about a month, but are not too upset that it's already peeling.

"There's heartbreak when you lose something you put so much work into but it's the experience right now they are sharing that they can hold onto," Ryatt said. "Let it crack and peel. I see it as a beautiful thing."

The students involved added they look at this as a life-lesson.

"I'm still proud of what we were able to accomplish, hopefully, the students will be able to enjoy it even if it is deteriorating," said Villanueva. "Not everything stays forever".

They will try to re-paste a couple of the murals but then will let nature take its course.
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