Making the Mural: Art and Community at Round Lake High School

By Lyanne Santana, RLHS Scholar Coach

“People may perceive the mural as simply a tree with a bunch of books at the bottom with a sunset as the background, but it is so much more than that.” 
–Esmeralda Mendoza ‘17

From September to January, Round Lake Scholars have been working together to create a mural that brings life to our new resource room. I directed this project as a part of Artists After Hours, RLHS’s Schuler-run after school art program. Over the course of 10 sessions, thirteen Scholars conceptualized, designed, and painted a mural to decorate the new resource room. The mural features the silhouette of a Schuler tree against a sunrise gradient, with two figures representing Scholars using the tree as a support. Beneath the tree are books ranging in topics that are important to the development of a Scholar, such as REP, camp, and APB. We used a mixture of materials for the piece including latex wall paint and primer, acrylic paint (including a glow in the dark color for the stars), glitter, and chalkboard paint for the tree and the figures. The result is a vibrant and interactive art piece that will last.
While the final result reflects Schuler Scholars and provides opportunity for lasting engagement, the process itself was a display of the strength of this Schuler community. As the leader of this project and program, I am very proud of how they have grown as artistic collaborators. It was an incredible opportunity to support Scholars in implementing a vision that makes the resource room their own and invites others to continue creating. Read on to hear from the artists and take a peek at our process.

Scholar Reflections:

“Originally, I was incredibly hesitant to even get close to the mural in fear of messing it up (I am not as artistically inclined as the others helping out), but wow! The sessions were incredibly fun, the environment really relaxed and so despite my inability I was able to make a contribution and feel a part of the project. That alone I believe is the idea of the mural, that sort of togetherness and community that the Schuler Program maintains and so it is definitely a huge addition to the environment.” -Nadia McPherson '19

“The process of painting the mural went really smooth it was very relaxing and fun. I personally enjoyed it and I think that all the scholars did great overall and the final result was amazing." — Daisy Alcantar ‘20

“The whole process of painting the mural was fun overall even though we face a couple of obstacles. Something we tripped over was blending the right colors to paint the sunrise gradient. When we first began making it we placed the primary colors and blended a lot to mix the colors but that didn't work because it dried too quickly. We found a solution to it eventually, a really great one, which was to paint the main colors and then mix colors using different proportions in between them and blend. I really enjoyed painting the mural because we all worked together and had fun, destressed ourselves, which is great. If given the chance I'll totally do it again, who knows maybe someday we can make one in the other Schuler room.” — Danny Sanchez ‘19

 “I enjoyed the process, especially because with time, more people showed up to help with the mural. Only a few of us were present for the brainstorming process, and it was interesting to see what everyone came up with. The best thing was that at the end, we all had to collaborate in order to synthesize these ideas. So, the end result is really special, because it preserves the collaborative effort of Schuler Scholars. I think that by having this mural it will embody the spirit of the Scholars.” — Emily Luna ‘19

“During the making of the mural I wasn't really a part of it until the painting started, but that goes to show how the Schuler community helps each other out. Certain people created the design and then others added on to it to make it as great as it can be.” — Ashley Rodriguez ‘20

Mural Making Process:

Priming the wall

First attempt at blending the gradient

Laying out the background

After a long painting session

After successfully blending the gradient


Nadia having fun painting the chalkboard tree

Working on the details

Final product!


  1. This story and this mural make really happy. It looks amazing! I miss you guys!


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