High school mural celebrates diversity

Every now and then, 17-year-old Steven Caloiaro checks the progress of a mural being painted on an upstairs wall of Carson High School.

"I think it's awesome," he said. "I just look at it and know it's something I could never do. A lot of hard work has gone into it."

The artist, Jane Oling-Greenard, hopes Steven's interest is just the beginning.

"I'm hoping it will be a conversation piece," she said. "That it strikes interest in other languages -- that's the whole point behind it."

Oling-Greenard has taught art at Carson High School for seven years. She is working on a degree in English as a second language.

"Cultural diversity has always been interesting to me," she explained. "Language is an extension of that."

The mural will fulfill the practical requirement for the ESL degree. In the center, it will read: "Information is power. Diversity is strength."

The same message will be written along the sides in about 14 languages ranging from Spanish to Washoe to Portuguese and Thai.

Students who are struggling to learn English may take comfort in seeing their native language represented on a school wall, she said.

And it may speak to those who learned English as their primary language as well.

"Maybe they'll start getting interested in their heritage," she said.

Oling-Greenard's mother is from England and her father's parents are Finnish and Swedish.

As a tribute to her grandmother, she added Welsh to the list of languages represented.

The art itself transcends languages.

"The curved shapes circling the face in a repeated pattern indicate movement and power, as do the rays of the universal symbol of the sun, which radiate out," she said. "The Celtic knots are in red, white and blue, representing our own flag and the English flag -- the heritage of our language.

"The golden color signifies wisdom, strength and power, completing the symbolic visual meaning of the quote."

The mural should be finished in about two weeks.


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