Atwell Middle School in Dallas got an extreme makeover yesterday. Nearly 500 volunteers spent the day cleaning, painting and redecorating the school as part of “Freedom Day”, the day of service to honor the victims of 9-11.
Volunteers with the business group Entrepreneurs for North Texas gave hallways, teacher lounges, and the lobby more than a fresh coat of paint. Co-chair of the makeover Chip Bensing says among upgrades is a kind-of racing strip along the halls and stairways to spice up the sesame, or off white, color chosen by school district officials.
“That looked somewhat institutional to me so I thought the best thing to do would be to add this accent stripe you see to where they’ve got some color to break it up," Bensing said while taking a short break. "And put a little school spirit into it.”
The stripe is blue and red, the colors of the Atwell Archers. And in the lobby at the school’s main entrance is a new mural with a revamped Archer mascot. David Farmer, CEO of the company Ad Giants was in charge of that.
“Well, you know it was probably done in the 60’s and it looked like clip art," Farmer said. "It looked like a kinda frilly Sherman of the forest kind of thing. And so, we wanted to make a powerful statement. So we took it and made a real strong, beefier looking guy drawing back on a bow.”
Colleague Donovan Dillon says the updated mascot is “aiming for excellence” as the school motto says. He hopes that, as well as the other improvements, will inspire the kids.
“There’s something about walking into a place that looks excellent that puts you in a mindset to be excellent yourself.” Dillon said.
For Atwell’s 950 students, the extreme makeover reveal comes this morning as the school bell rings. After spending the day at the Perot Museum yesterday, students were wrangled the back way into the auditorium for dismissal and did not see the hallways or lobby. Seventh grader Kaya Barrett is anxious to see the improvements.
“Yeah, the walls had all these words on it. And the white was like greyish. It was real bad.”
Atwell choir director Stevon Harris spent the day watching the transformation. He calls it phenomenal and is grateful to the 9-11 day of service volunteers.
“A day that was meant for tragedy and meant for bad, and they’re using that day to turn it around and turn the meaning of it around because this day is going to go down in history at W.H. Atwell.”
Entrepreneurs for North Texas figures the donated time, money and elbow grease is worth $150,000 or more, but the labor of love …. priceless.