A fifth-grade student repainted the United States mural on the playground of Sunset Elementary School in August.
Cooley Williams made the decision to repaint the outline of the United States while on a bike ride with his family in the beginning of the summer.
The mural, which is outside on the playground, was fading badly. The outline of the country and the states were barely noticeable after many years of being on the blacktop of Sunset Elementary. The existing mural did not have any color.
“He told me he wanted to repaint it,” said Katrina Williams, Cooley’s mother. “We told him he couldn’t paint it. He had to ask permission first.”
Determined to make a difference on his playground, he did just that. After walking into the main office to speak to Dr. Toni Carr, the principal at Sunset Elementary, he was granted permission to begin the project.
“We thought about opening it up to the whole school, but he told me he knew he would be able to pull it off with his friends,” said Williams.
With the help of his family, Cooley pressure-washed the sand and dirt off of the existing mural. He recruited six friends to fill the refreshed mural with color. The entire project took a few weeks to complete.
Cooley was joined by Lilly Patrick, Chase Hyatt, Jill Gerber, Hunter Kramer, Abigail Shyrock and Wesley Rimmel.
The paintbrushes were supplied by Artworx Tattoo and Body Piercing on Fort Smallwood Road in Curtis Bay. The paint and additional materials were donated by Home Depot on East Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie.
“He’s always been artsy and creative, but this is the biggest thing he’s ever taken on,” said Williams. “He’s painted on canvases before, but they aren’t that big.”
Williams said she is “super proud” of her son for completing such a large-scale project having never done anything like this before.
“He’s a very unique little guy, for sure,” said Williams. “It is going to be so cool for the kids to see what they’ve created every day at recess.”
Just as Williams predicted, on the first day of school, Cooley’s classmates and teachers were excited about his mural.
“Cooley came home and said all of the kids really liked it,” said Williams. “His teacher said she liked it and wanted to know all of the details of how he did it and who helped.”
While he may only have one year of recess left on the playground at Sunset Elementary School, Cooley has left something for students to enjoy for years to come.