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High school students celebrate diversity in mural

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MCKINLEYVILLE- 95 portraits of McKinleyville High School students fill a colorful mural that represents the diverse student body on campus. Students from art classes have worked on the project over the past two months and plan on debuting the mural for the community at McKinleyville Arts Night on Friday.

Art Teacher, Justine Smith, said she wanted to show the wide range of diversity on campus. "I wanted to show that diversity is not something that's to be feared, it's something that is beautiful. Like this mural, it's colorful, it makes the world a better place," she said.

Every student was photographed by photography students who transformed the photographs to black and white. The photos were then painted over by color so that the photos of the students show against the colored backdrop.

Smith said students from different religions, cultures, ethnicities and sexual orientation are represented in the mural. On the mural a quote from Maya Angelou reads in the three most dominant languages on campus, English, Spanish and Yurok.

"I think it really captures the message that we're really trying to show and I think that the art work speaks for itself, but this just makes it crystal clear," said Smith.

Art student, Taylor Johnson, is of Yurok dissent and helped to create the art piece. "Our diversity mural is just something that shows how unique everyone can be individually yet all together we make up one unit," she said.

The students who contributed said they are excited to see their peers reaction to the mural, and are happy the mural will be on campus after the students graduate.

"Knowing that I was a part of this school and adding something that was different among everything that was here was special," said Camille Holderman, a senior.

Smith said she hopes the community will appreciate the student's art. "I think people are really going to embrace it," she said.