Spalding volunteers repair vandalized mural at Blue Lick Elementary

Steve Jones

After a mural outside the entrance to Blue Lick Elementary School was recently vandalized, Spalding University art professor Skylar Smith and some student volunteers were there to lend a skilled helping hand.

Smith and students Kirsten Kircher,  Amelia Huneke and Sarah Reynolds, all of the Spalding studio art program, as well as students Carla Johnson (liberal studies major) and Aprile Parry (business administration major) volunteered on Sunday, April 22, to repair and repaint the mural, which was tagged up on Jan. 12 with expletives and graphic images in black spray paint.

School staff and parents pressure washed and painted over the offensive words and images immediately after they were discovered on the storage building next to the student drop-off area, but for the past three months, the mural, which depicts the friendly Blue Lick lion mascot next to the words “Blue Lick Pride,” was mostly ruined.

Kirchner, who specializes in painting, took on the task of redoing the smiling lion, and the others, working with Blue Lick Elementary students, parents and faculty, did touch-up and repair painting. The volunteers also painted the adjacent wall with the Blue Lick Elementary motto – “Be safe, be kind, be respectful, be responsible. Be your best and help the rest” – in bold blue-and-yellow letters.

“I only live 20 or 30 minutes out from here, so I feel like this is my community, too,” Kirchner said. “I want these kids to see something better (than the damaged mural) and have something to smile about.  … Knowing that they can come together and make something so beautiful and spark something within other students, that’s what artists love to do. We like to spark people and give them inspiration and make them feel like they can make a difference. Hopefully this kind of makes them believe in that.”

Johnson isn’t an artist, but she said she’s been a lifelong volunteer who always is looking for ways to help the community. She came to Blue Lick after seeing a Spalding campus email looking for volunteers.

It was the same for Parry, who brought along her two sons, ages 11 and 5. The younger boy went to Head Start at Blue Lick.

“I had a blast,” Johnson said. “The reason that we had to do this is bad, but overall everyone came together and corrected a wrong. … Everyone lends a hand. When someone’s struggling, you help them.”

Spalding got involved after Blue Lick Elementary Parent-Teacher Association President Erin Lush contacted Smith, who then began to organize student volunteers.

“I don’t think we could have had a better university come out to help our school community,” Lush said. “Spalding is one of the universities that prides itself on community outreach, and when they responded and, ‘Yes, we would love to help,’ it was a perfect fit. Skylar and all the Spalding students were engaged, polite, very talented. They stayed to get the job done, and it’s great. I can’t be more happy.”

Smith said she was proud that students volunteered their time to help repair a piece of public art, especially one that is such a point of pride to Blue Lick Elementary.

“I think it shows that our students want to be involved and that we have some students who are civic-minded and want to help out,” she said.

Extra thanks: Home Depot on Preston Highway and Sherwin-Williams Paint Store on Hurstbourne Lane donated paint supplies for the project, Lush said.

In the news: Here is the WHAS-11 story on the mural repair.