Team Chicago Makes A Difference!

By Adam Conway on November 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

On Saturday, October 26th, Team Chicago traveled to Chicago’s far west side to serve the Lewis School of Excellence in Austin, one of the city’s high-need neighborhoods. We worked alongside City Year Chicago and 300 other AmeriCorps members, community residents, parents, and teachers to “make a difference” by beautifying and organizing the school.

The Lewis School of Excellence is an AULS (Academy for Urban School Leadership) turnaround school. This means that the AULS has taken a school that has been chronically failing for years and has transformed it into a high-performing institution. They’ve put new trained leadership into the schools, from the principal to the teachers, and instated a new curriculum, with the hope that the school will become more successful. It only made sense that as the AULS transformed the students and staff, our team could heMLK Quotelp transform the learning environment which they inhabit each week.

Volunteers spent the day painting several murals around the school’s hallways and organizing the school’s library. Our team’s specific project was to help with the murals. When we first entered the building, the hallways didn’t have much art or color, aside from a few bulletin boards. Our team adorned the wall with paw prints (the school’s mascot is a Lion), portraits and quotes from influential African American leaders, an outline of Chicago’s famous skyline, and a wall of chalkboard paint where students could share their dreams for their futures.
Eric and Kassndra's New City

I am definitely a person who loves art projects and seeing color added to any space, so I was excited to bAnna and the Chalkboarde involved. A few hours into the project, as I carefully tried to stay within the lines of the Martin Luther King Jr. quote I had been assigned to paint, I wondered if the kids would truly notice and appreciate the colorful additions and effort that were being put into making the school beautiful. Later, as we sat in the school’s auditorium for the closing ceremony, their football team arrived back from a game (they won!) and walked around the school to see all the new artwork. They were honestly amazed at what we had done for the school, and they were so excited! In that moment, I really was able to see what an impact we had made on the Lewis School and its students.

Theresa and the Paw Prints

The kids at this school will come to a different school on Monday than the one they left on Friday. Their new school is filled with art and color and quotes that capture the strength and diversity of the Austin community. And who knows, maybe these murals will inspire ]a student at the school to learn something new or want to paint a mural of their own? Regardless, Team Chicago was proud to be a part of something that will be a presence in the Lewis School of Excellence for years to come.

Team Chicago!

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