Educators and parents at Benjamin Franklin Magnet School on Friday unveiled a mural created by 26 students from Daily Continuation High School that was six months in the making.
The 10-foot-by-20-foot mural, depicting an atlas, more accurately represents the school's mission than the glass case of Benjamin Franklin artifacts, teachers and students said.
Although named after one of the nation's founding fathers, Franklin Magnet has been transformed in recent years into the International Foreign Language Academy of Glendale, where students spend up to 90% of their days speaking and learning in German, Spanish, French or Italian.
A multi-million dollar federal grant that paved the way for the school's transformation also brought a federal magnet school evaluator to check on how the school was doing.
During the evaluator's visit last year, she remarked off-hand how the school didn't feel like a foreign language school.
Parent Gillian Bonacci, president of the Benjamin Franklin Foundation, said she recalled the evaluator saying, "It doesn't scream foreign language."
Her comment sent Franklin educators and parents scrambling to transform the school's lobby.
The school turned to Amiee Klem, a parent who works in interior design, specializing in kids' bedrooms. Klem settled on the idea of creating an atlas and the mural project was turned over to Daily High teacher and artist Emily Goff.
"The vast majority of students had never painted before," Goff said of the students who spent months on the mural.
For the past several years, Goff has worked with professional muralist Roger Dolin, who helps to mentor Daily High students. In the last seven years, students have painted murals for several Glendale schools as Dolin has coached them in the art process.
Dolin said he's noticed that creating the murals "motivated kids to come to school."
Candice Hernandez, 18, who had completed one art class before learning how to paint the mural, attended its unveiling on Friday.
"It was an experience we had never had," Hernandez said.
Her classmate, Victoria Bebik, 18, also saw the completed mural for the first time on Friday and expressed joy in seeing the mural as a whole after watching it come together piece by piece.
"It's amazing to see what we have created," she said.
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.