- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - For most students, summer marks a three-month-long detachment from school and from learning.

However, 14-year-olds Janette Bovard, Josie Forbes, Dylan Ritz and Aiden Beck are not most students.

On May 25, the four former Effingham Junior High School classmates began painting a mural in the junior high’s cafeteria to leave their legacy at the school.

The mural reaches from floor to ceiling in the walkway of the basement cafeteria and features the junior high’s mascot in the form of a brown and black mustang in mid-gallop, which Forbes affectionately dubbed Declan.

The artwork also showcases various school subjects, such as science and art, with an image to represent each of them.

“We wanted to leave a positive mark on the school,” said Forbes.

Forbes said she had discussed the idea with her fellow painters two weeks before school ended this year.

The four enlisted the help of math teacher and extracurricular activities volunteer, Becky Wilson.

Wilson set the students on the right track, involving school Principal Bill Myers.

Forbes said she then wrote a paper explaining why the mural will be impactful to the school, which she presented to the school board in hopes the project would be approved.

“We always walked past the other murals in the cafeteria, and I thought it would be cool to do a mural and have everyone see it,” Forbes said, referencing the other works of art that decorate the otherwise white walls of the eatery.

The four took charge of the project and did almost everything on their own, said Forbes’ mother, Janette Forbes.

Janette Forbes and Bovard’s mother, Barb, were enlisted as supervisors for the project. The parents also donated the paint and supplies used for the mural.

“The kids did it all themselves,” Janette Forbes said. “They went to the principal and board, drew up the sketch and came up with the color scheme.”

Janette Forbes said Barb Bovard, who works at Stang Art in Effingham, will put the finishing touches on the mural and paint the lettering to make the mural cohesive.

Josie Forbes, Janette Bovard, Ritz and Beck came after sports practices and in their free time to work on the mural, Janette Forbes said. She added that the four have done a lot of the organizing for the project on their own.

“I’m very proud because I really never thought about (Josie) doing this,” said Janette Forbes. “Sometimes, when kids say they’re going to do stuff, it doesn’t really come about, but they stuck to it.”

Josie Forbes said she and her friends have spent four hours each day working on the mural. Her mom added that they expect to spend a little over 16 hours on the project altogether, a remarkable feat for students beginning their summer vacation.

Because the four will be freshman at Effingham High School in the fall, Janette Forbes said she feels this is a growing experience for the each of the youngsters.

“This is a growth step.for all of them to do their own management of this whole project,” said Janette Forbes.

Josie Forbes said she hopes that the mural will still be there when she, Janette Bovard, Ritz and Beck are older so that future EJHS students can see the art and be inspired to do something to make a positive mark on the school as well.

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Source: Effingham Daily News, http://bit.ly/1tvfIq8

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Information from: Effingham Daily News, http://www.effinghamdailynews.com

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