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Graffiti greets students
Mural brightens up school's media center
Wall WEB 1
Kelly Mill Elementary Principal Ron McAllister meets with teacher Greg Walkup in the media center. - photo by Jim Dean


You can view the YouTube video of the creation of the mural here

Kelly Mill Elementary School has been tagged with graffiti — on purpose.

During spring break, Atlanta artist Corey Barksdale spent about 20 hours spray-painting the media center with his colorful, uplifting design.

“Just to have that huge big white back wall, to me, we had to do something on that wall that goes with the vision we have here and the theme we’ve already got going in the media center,” said Greg Walkup, educational technology specialist, who came up with the idea.

“We want it to be a collaborative where kids are talking in here ... we just wanted to create a space where they’re just comfortable, where it’s inviting and inspiring. My motto is dream for big.”

Walkup said he was inspired by his multi-colored shoes to research graffiti artists. He reached out to Barksdale and, about two weeks later, the artist was at the school designing a sketch.

“I wanted something that was thought-provoking, inspiring, something that creates conversation,” Walkup said. “In my opinion, people think graffiti has a negative connotation to it when they hear that. And in my opinion, I think it’s a piece of art and something different … in most schools, art is viewed as a specific, in-the-box kind of medium.

“Here, we’re different. We think outside the box ...  and I knew it would be a unique piece that we could tastefully do.”

According to Principal Ron McAllister, the mural is unexpected.

“It is not a ‘typical’ mural you would expect to see in an elementary school, but it captures the mission of Kelly Mill Elementary to invite children and adults to dream beyond the traditional walls of a school building,” he said.

“It is our duty as educators to guide students through experiences that open possibilities to them, not to place limits on who should do what.”

Walkup shot a time-lapse video of Barksdale creating the mural, and included reaction from the students when they returned from spring break to find their once barren wall covered in color.

“It was cool to hear their perspective and for the kids to view it as a creativity piece,” he said. “Teachers are also using it as a writing springboard. It’s something the whole community can benefit from.”