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New Artwork With Educational Value

January 20, 2002, 5:37 PM by Amanda Spicer

Schools across KELOLAND are struggling to keep their school spirit alive with their mascots and emblems under fire. But one school's found a compromise. It's keeping its nickname but changing its image.

Sioux Falls Washington High School doesn't have a mascot and doesn't intend to add one. The nickname "Warriors" reflects the school's pride, honor and courage. And with the addition of some new artwork the school's also showing its appreciation of culture.

The school was once ridiculed because of its Warrior mascot, but Sunday Washington High School opened its doors to the beat of a new drum. People of all cultural backgrounds gathered for the unveiling of 250 feet of murals that will represent warriors of different heritages.

Washington High School Principal Carla Middlen says, "There's great strength in our diversity. Each one of us is unique and has a contribution to make and that there are warriors of all kinds who have made positive contributions and served as positive role models for all of us."

That's why pictures like the one depicting students from Anne Sullivan in front of Crazy Horse are being added to the Warrior curriculum.

Middlen says, "I think if you can see the people that you are reading and studying about and actually see the depiction of the buffalo, the prairie, the river as you're talking about those things, it comes much more alive for you and makes those personal connections."

And the pictures depicting the diversity of the nation are getting rave reviews from students.

Student Council Vice President Justin Coulter says, "The paintings are amazing. I saw them on Friday and they're just awesome. I couldn't believe it. I'm very excited to have them."

Middlen says the display was possible because of a joint effort, not only from the artist Tammy deGruchy, but from teachers and students as well. She says, "Students helped to do some of the research for some of the people whose faces will be in the portraits."

And Coulter says through the research and the paintings themselves, students have a better understanding of all cultures. "To enter Washington is to walk among a United Nations of students."

Washington High School has just started the process of getting the murals involved in the curriculum. But Middlen says it should be ready to go by Fall next year.

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