The benevolent reason behind painting a mural at Ada Elementary


If there is one thing that senior Ana Ahmed has learned from experience is that kids will say anything. Whether it be critical, complimentary, or simply conversational, children’s filters are non-existent, and she is thankful for it.

During the months and months of work that Ana and her fellow classmates have been participating in painting a beautiful mural at Ada elementary—their former school—it has become apparent that, although the original thought process behind painting this mural was for her, the new drive behind the entire project is completely and utterly about the bright students who always have an opinion on their painting skills.

“Last year around, the time we first started, there was this little boy,” Ana said, “and he just stops right in front of us while we were working and says, ‘I know exactly where this is going,’ and he proceeded to go into detail about what he thought we should paint, and he even gave us a quote to put on it: ‘if you can choose anything, choose kindness.’ He continued going into more and more extensive detail, and it honestly wasn’t a bad idea, it just wasn’t what we were doing, which actually made it really funny.”

Senior Ayesha Jeddy—who started this whole project—agrees with Ana that the kids are such a priority when it comes to anything to do with the mural.

Making the mural interactive in some way was a goal the girls hoped to make a reality through a variety of ideas that they have formulated over the past year.

“When it comes to getting the students involved, it’s really important to us,” Ayesha said. “Part of the mural is angel wings of sorts, and one idea we had was for the students to stand in front of them and take a picture. The other idea we had was to have them all decorate a feather that we would then stick somewhere on the mural so they could feel like they were also able to leave their mark, just like we are leaving ours.”

Unfortunately, like everything in this world, it wasn’t without its challenges. Getting things approved can be a daunting task, but Ayesha’s passion for the project, as well as her unwavering persistence, played a vital part in getting the mural approved, not only by the principle and the entire board but also a multitude of different people who wanted to make sure it was a good idea.  

Along with these technicalities, Ayesha also felt a small sense of pressure when it came to getting started. She explains that they had to draw and redraw over and over again until they finally landed on a plan they all liked. Self-doubt can be a harmful thing, but, luckily, she didn’t let it get to her too much. 

“At the beginning, I could kind of feel us struggling,” Ayesha said. “However, eventually we realized that we needed to just be confident with it and start painting, so that’s what we did. From there, things have run pretty smoothly.”

Senior Valerie Greenwood feels that same confidence as well as a sense of calm every time she enters the building to help paint this masterpiece.

“The mural has definitely affected me in many positive ways,” Valerie said, “but one major way that I can think of is just being able to go to [Ada Elementary] again, and being able to take myself out of the high school setting. Being around the kids definitely reduces my stress just because of how they act around us. Painting is also a big outlet of mine, so overall I would say it’s been a really great experience thus far, and a great way to calm down after a potentially stressful day.”

we needed to just be confident with it and start painting”

— Ayesha Jeddy

Along with having a peaceful and productive outlet, Valerie is also very thankful to be able to spend this extra time with some of her closest friends doing something that they all collectively love: painting and being around the children. Especially considering it’s their senior year, this time together is more valuable than ever.

“I have enjoyed having this time to spend with Ana and Ayesha,” Valerie said, “and it’s also kind of funny experiencing these younger kids’ comments together. We always have something to laugh about especially when the kids walk by and say whatever they are thinking about it. Some kids will stop by and be like, ‘Wow that’s amazing.’ While other kids will just be like, ‘no, I don’t like it,’ which can be disheartening, but is also really funny, because they just say whatever is on their mind at the moment.”

The whole mural painting experience has left them more grateful, proud, and accomplished prior to embarking on this complicatedly beautiful experience together. This project will not only help brighten the young souls of Ada Elementary, but it also has helped these girls gain some closure on their senior year.

“The whole process has been very fulfilling,” Ayesha said. “At the beginning, I viewed it more as surface-level, being a good way to get involved, but now, just seeing how the kids interact with it, and how they talk to us when they see us working–it’s just a really rewarding experience and shows us there are people appreciating it because they are just so happy when we are there.”