Volunteers brighten the halls for special-needs students

Thompson Middle School student Will Vickers joins his classmates in painting a mural at the Warrior Center for special-needs students on Dec. 3. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Thompson Middle School student Will Vickers joins his classmates in painting a mural at the Warrior Center for special-needs students on Dec. 3. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The drab, white hallway in Alabaster’s Warrior Center for special-needs students is a thing of the past, as a group of students from Thompson Middle School and the University of Montevallo spent Dec. 3 making the center more vibrant.

“We always stress to our students making good choices, and making good choices can sometimes be challenging,” Warrior Center teacher Candice Chenault said as six student volunteers worked to paint a trio of colorful rectangles on the hallway wall. “This will make it a much more friendly and positive learning environment.”

The project was a partnership between the Warrior Center, TMS and the University of Montevallo, and was spearheaded by Alabaster Board of Education President Adam Moseley and city School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers. The Alabaster Arts Council purchased the supplies for the painting.

Throughout the day, the volunteers painted three colorful rectangles containing circles and a tactile “Tree of knowledge” above the center’s classroom doors.

“That’s something they will literally walk through every day,” UM art education major Lana Hobbs, a student teacher at TMS, said of the tree painting. “It will have glass marbles on it to provide a tactile feel.”

While the volunteers finished painting the pair of murals on Dec. 3, they are by no means completed forever, Hobbs said. Warrior Center teachers will use the paintings as a reward for students’ good behavior, she said.

“This is something they will be able to participate in over the long term,” Hobbs said. “There is no right or wrong way to paint these. Students who do a good job in class and show good behavior will be able to add to the painting.”

TMS art teacher Gail Randall directed the project, and ensured a steady stream of her art students were on hand to assist with completing the mural.

“This has been a great partnership,” Randall said. “It’s really going to improve the learning environment for these kids.”