Mount Holyoke College Students Spend Spring Break Helping Pupils Realize Their Vision

For immediate release
March 20, 2001


Students will live, work and create community as they help pupils paint a mural in a Springfield, Mass., elementary school

SOUTH HADLEY, Massachusetts--A dozen Mount Holyoke College students will spend their spring break with paintbrushes in hand, helping turn the ideas of youngsters into a mural at their Springfield, Mass., elementary school.

From March 17 through March 24, the students will work with 20 fourth- through seventh-graders at the Brightwood Elementary School to create a mural of the pupils' design. The project is part of the college's third annual Service and Leadership Odyssey, designed to give students an opportunity to be of service to the community while forging connections with fellow participants of diverse backgrounds. Students last year worked in soup kitchens in Washington, D.C., and in 1999 helped rebuild a church in Birmingham, Ala., that had been destroyed by arson.

The odyssey "is about bringing together a diverse group of women to work toward a common goal," said Rochelle Calhoun, associate dean of the College. She and Anita Magovern, the chaplain to the College, are the group's advisers.

Because providing opportunities for forming connections is so important, the students will be sharing a house during the mural project. In the afternoons, the students will work with the pupils on the design of the project, saving the evening hours for painting. No work will be done while the elementary school is in session.

"We want to be in service to the community. We want to really be in the community, to be with the kids, to build a connection to the kids," Calhoun said. For that reason, the pupils are in charge of creating the design that will go up on the wall. "It's a way for them to realize a goal à they start with a blank wall, and end up with a mural," Calhoun said. "We're just there to help them realize it. It shows them that they can make a change, and do something positive in their world."

Assisting with the project are Brightwood principal Les Edinson and Teddy Sylvester, director of the North End Community Center, which is located at the school.

The project reinforces Mount Holyoke College's strong tradition of service. Founded in 1837 by revolutionary educator Mary Lyon, the women's college maintains a historic legacy of engagement with the world.

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