MUSCATINE, Iowa – As part of their 100th anniversary celebration, the Muscatine Rotary Club has helped brighten the days of the students at the Muskie Early Learning Center (MELC). With a colorful mural painted by local artist Chris Anderson, Rotary hopes to inspire Muscatine’s youngest generation of leaders.
MELC Principal Jessi Freers shared that several months ago, Rotary member Mary Wildermuth approached her about adding a mural to the school. “The idea was to take the Rotary wheel as the centerpiece of the mural but to incorporate a kid-friendly design and to take the Rotary beliefs and put them in kid-friendly language,” explained Freers.
Wildermuth recommended Anderson as the best person to create the mural, and once Freers saw his plans for it, she whole heartedly agreed. “The artist, Chris Anderson, brought a draft of the first mural and I fell in love with it instantly. It was kid-friendly and fun. He has made many changes as he has gone along and taken ideas from myself and the staff as he has worked.”
With the original mural complete, Freers feels it makes an excellent addition to the school. It also offers a unique way to reinforce expectations for students in a fun and inviting way. “The students have enjoyed getting to watch Chris work, as he does the work during the day. . . There will be some kid-friendly language from the Rotary beliefs built in, such as ‘are you being a good friend,’ ‘are you being helpful,’ and we hope to utilize the wall with our recess expectations and teaching students how to be a good friend.”
While working on the mural, Anderson realized the MELC had room for a second mural across from the first one. Freers has approved creating it and looks forward to taking Rotary’s goal one step further and giving her students more beautiful artwork to enjoy. “The original plan was just to do one mural, but when Chris saw the space he was working with we decided doing the other wall would be a great asset as well. While we haven’t decided on a design yet, we are planning to go with a ‘different abilities, accepting of all’ type of theme,” she elaborated.