Students, staff, and community members were on hand recently to celebrate the unveiling of mural paintings on three HISD campuses – Jane Long Academy, Sutton Elementary School, and Las Americas Newcomer School.
The three schools are part of the Gulfton Story Trail Mural Project, which features 12 artistic murals inspired by poems written by local students. The project showcases the area’s culture while attracting visitors to the southwest Houston neighborhood — one of the most immigrant-rich areas of the city.
HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan lauded the murals as a point of pride for the district’s students and families.
“They will serve as a reminder for many years to come that we embrace diversity in the Houston Independent School District,” Lathan said.
The murals are a collaborative effort of State Rep. Gene Wu, Houston City Council Member Mike Laster, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Arts, and the Culture of Health – Advancing Together (CHAT). The local nonprofit works to improve the quality of life for immigrant and refugee families. The pieces of art highlight the community’s ethnic and cultural diversity.
“Infinite Future,” the mural at Long Academy (6501 Bellaire Blvd.), features students with pink and purple skin holding beakers and test tubes that represent the possibility of their future.
Long Academy Principal Keri Wittpenn, whose school offers the Allied Health Professions Magnet Program, sees the mural as a powerful way for students’ hopes, dreams, and futures to be told visually.
“What I appreciated most about this mural at Long is that it visually reinforces what we already know about our students – that they are capable of entering into the demanding healthcare industry and they will succeed,” Wittpenn said.
Long Academy senior Aniya Keelen — an aspiring nurse who, as her peers have told her, bears a striking resemblance to one of the subjects in Long’s mural, said the mural serves as an inspiration.
“I realized that is me, the future me, having graduated from Jane Long in 2020, graduated from the university of my choice in 2023, making my way into the medical field while serving the community that served me,” Keelen said.
The mural “They Come Here for Their Children,” at Sutton Elementary (7402 Albacore Drive), depicts young children climbing over a stack of books, reading, working on a computer, and flying on a paper airplane.
The “There’s So Much to Explore” mural at Las Americas (6501 Bellaire Blvd.), features a young girl staring out with a fixed gaze, as three children run through a bold, colorful landscape.