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First graders help paint mural in downtown La Crosse

Mitch Reynolds

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Annie Morris. (Photos: Bob Good)

Remember that time you splashed paint on the side of an office building downtown and didn’t get in trouble for it? No?

A bunch of children in La Crosse will be able to say they have actually had that unusual experience.

About two dozen first graders from Hamilton Elementary in La Crosse grabbed paintbrushes, gloves and oversized t-shirts Tuesday, and went to work on Annie Morris’ abstract mural on the north side of the Mid-West Family Broadcasting building.

They were invited to do so by Morris and were mostly giddy for the experience — and for good reason, said their teacher Jennifer Speckeen.

“They do experience a lot of neat art things but this being part of our community and something that will be here for a long time in our community, as they grow up and watch it, is just so exciting,” Speckeen said.

Speckeen was sold on the idea to bring the students downtown as soon as it was presented.

“It was really neat, and we felt just really blessed to be able to be part of it because not a lot of kids get to do this,” Speckeen said.

One first grader, Audriana, told WIZM the experience inspired her to paint more at home. Something less abstract though; as she said, “Snowflakes, hearts and stars.”

Another student, Carter, said he appreciated that people driving by would be able to look at the painting for years to come. He said the experience made him want to paint more. And, in his case, he’d be painting Power Rangers.

Speckeen said bringing the students to help was a perfect addition to their regular curriculum.

“Our kids are studying community and community helpers,” she said, “and we’ve been really teaching them about their neighborhood. So for them to be a part of a bigger part of the community is just a phenomenal experience for them.”

Morris said she’d like to get students involved in painting other murals — hopefully inside La Crosse school district buildings, next year.

Morris’ mural on Second Street — child additions included — should be done by the end of the week.

Annie Morris paints with a Hamilton Elementary student on the Mid-West Family Broadcasting building Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2018. (Photo: Bob Good).

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