FLORENCE, S.C. – Students from two high schools and one middle school in Florence One Schools helped brighten the lobby of the United Way of Florence County by painting a mural. The mural was unveiled Tuesday night at the United Way office on Palmetto Street.

The full-wall mural was painted in one Saturday by eight students. It features the United Way logo in the center and imagery associated with the 17 nonprofit agencies the United Way partners with.

During the unveiling, United Way interim President Kevin Russell presented the school district visual arts coordinator, Laura McFadden, with a check for $1,000 in appreciation for the students' work and to give back to the schools.

“We wanted to help bring arts to Florence County and to say thanks,” said Rachel Baggett, director of marketing and initiatives for the United Way.

Russell said they wanted to liven up the office lobby and reached out to the schools for help. On March 9, the students showed up and finished the mural in one day.

McFadden said she put out an artist call and eight students showed interest. She said they discussed how it would be collaboration, and what it would mean to work together on a project.

“I was very pleased with how they worked together and were focused,” she said. “I am shocked we got it done in one day. They really did a beautiful job.”

She said it was also a way for the students to do community service.

Students participating in the project were Ashley Howze, South Florence High School; Isabelle Sarmiento, Wilson High School; Rachel Herod, Sneed Middle School; Cameron Byrd, Wilson High School; Mia Anderson, Lyric Brown, Maris Hysong, and Alyssa Carter, all of South Florence.

The students were excited for the unveiling of their work before family, teachers and agencies represented in the mural.

“I wanted to check something off my bucket list,” Lyric Brown said. “It was a great accomplishment, and I got to help out.”

She said she was surprised that it only took one day.

“I thought it was going to take at least three days when I saw how big the wall was,” she said.

Lyric is a ninth-grader.

Isabelle Sarmiento said she was introduced to the project by her teacher as a way to showcase her designs.

A 10th-grader, Isabelle said she has been accepted to the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities next year.

Mia Anderson said she wanted to do this project because she has always wanted to contribute to a mural.

“This was my chance,” said the 10th-grader. “It was a team effort and all this came together to form this really beautiful picture.”

“I wanted to help do something for the community,” said Maris Hysong, a 10th-grade student. “I love art. I thought it would be really fun and a way to make new friends and meet new people.”

McFadden said they will use the donation to enhance their display system. She said with the remainder she will let the teachers make suggestions for its use.

“We thought it was great,” Russell said. “We had high hopes and they went above our expectations.”

Originally published in the Wednesday, April 3, 2019 edition of the Morning News
Written by Ardie Arvidson