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Grade School Murals Show South Side 'Doing Some Amazing Things'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Students at a South Side elementary school were hoping to send a message to their community, despite the recent shooting of six people a mile away from their school.

Three large tile murals were dedicated Tuesday morning at Horace Mann Academy in the South Chicago neighborhood. The tile murals can be seen from busy Jeffery Boulevard.

Murals Designed To Help Inspire Kids

"We want to send a message to our community and our school that we are here. We're here to do some great things in the community," said principal Jeffrey Porter. "We want to make a statement, and the statement is that we're doing some amazing things around here."

One mural that's about 25' x 20' includes part of the Chicago skyline, and silhouettes of African-American pioneers – including astronaut Mae Jemison (a graduate of Morgan Park High School), musician Louis Armstrong, civil rights leader Frederick Douglass, and Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph. The mural says "We are creative thinkers, dream chasers, and goal setters. This is our Mann"

Sixth grader Maurice Truss helped design and attach tiles to the walls.

"I take pride in it, because some of my few suggestions are in it. It's nice," he said.

So does 7th grader Myiesha Evans, who giggles that she'll be able to show people for decades to come that she had something to do with the artwork.

"I'll be like, 'You know I did that,'" she said.

Kamelia Hristeva, founder of the Green Star Movement, helps students citywide create public art projects. She said the murals are designed "to help inspire the kids."

Despite some of the violence in neighboring South Shore, Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) said the murals show "we have hope."

"We have hope as a community. We have hope as a society to be able to move forward; that we're doing good things right here in our own backyard," she said.

Horace Mann School Mural
One of three murals created by students at Horace Mann Academy to send a positive message about their community. (Credit: Bernie Tafoya/CBS)

The night before the mural was unveiled, six people were shot at a laundromat in the South Shore neighborhood, about a mile away from the school.

"With the world we live in, we have so many bad things that happen on a daily basis. To see something wonderful, to see something that's a product of kids says a lot about that we do have a future," Harris said.

The Green Star Movement plans to be back at Mann Academy next year to add another mural.

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