R. L. Turner High School mural unveiled, will make impact for years to come

A new mural, encompassing the pride of R. L. Turner HS, was revealed to the public during a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 24. Located near the entrance from the student parking lot, the mural speaks to the legacy of R. L. Turner and the culture in and around the campus. The project was a collaborative effort between artist Andre Trenier, students and faculty at Turner, Make it Count and Thrive Collective.

“The purpose of this mural is to highlight the beautiful history of the school and inspire students to tap into their gifts, talents and creativity,” said Mari Rubio, executive director of Make it Count. “The beauty of the artwork is inspiring and acts as an uplifting piece that we hope will make an impact that lasts for generations.”

R. L. Turner High School mural unveiled, will make impact for years to come

Andre Tenier, a contracted artist partnered with Thrive Collective in New York, served as the lead artist and designer for this project. 

Tenier’s first step was to meet with students and gather ideas on what they envisioned being on the wall, and what they thought would best represent the school. He then created mockups and sketches based on those ideas and presented them to the principal for approval. Once given the green light to begin painting, Tenier and the students got to work.

With only six days to complete the mural, Tenier was on a short timeline. Long hours were spent working to complete the project. Art students added certain pieces to the mural and applied academics students got to add their physical handprints to the wall. Academy of Media Arts and Technology students created a Documentary Video capturing the mural creation from start to finish.

“I’m really happy with the outcome,” said Tenier. “The students contributed the most with their ideas and concepts that actually went into creating the mural. I think passing by a brightly colored wall that instills pride makes anyone feel better than just passing by a gray one.” 

“The mural is a beautiful display of our community,” said Carolyn Benavides, CFBISD school board member. “The mural detail and vibrant rich colors bring life to the R. L. Turner building.”

R. L. Turner High School mural unveiled, will make impact for years to come

R. L. Turner Associate Principal, Katie Palmer, played a pivotal role in the completion of the project. 

“First, we had to seek approval to put the mural on an exterior wall, as that had never been done before in our district,” said Palmer. “We gave a presentation to the chiefs and board for approval on the motivation behind the project, the groups funding it and a plan for potential deterioration or destruction.”

Funding was crucial to the project’s success.

“This mural was originally funded by a grant from Thrive Collective,” said Palmer. “Thrive originated in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1996 as a youth center. For 15 years, the majority of their students came from the public school across the street. In 2006, Thrive began strategically bringing their services into the school building, and completed their first mural project at the school in 2007. By 2011 they incorporated Thrive Collective and transitioned to a school-based program model. Their success in melding youth leadership development, mentoring, arts and culture broadened their reach to include schools and neighborhoods across the city.”

As the project grew, Make It Count approached Palmer about helping fund the project. 

“Make It Count is a CFB program, formerly known as Bea’s Kids, designed to provide educational and personal development programs to children from low-income families so they will stay in school and break the cycle of poverty,” said Palmer. “This charitable organization has been making an impact in our community for more than 30 years.”

Community members, students, faculty, staff and members of the school board gathered on May 24 to hear about the project and unveil the mural.

R. L. Turner High School mural unveiled, will make impact for years to come
R. L. Turner High School mural unveiled, will make impact for years to come

“We want to thank all the incredible Staff at CFBISD who helped bring this project to fruition,” said Rubio. “We hope that this project is the catalyst that sparks many art projects across the district and can be a thread that ties all schools together.”