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Volunteers add touch of color to school

ESCANABA — Escanaba Upper Elementary was given a colorful accent over Christmas break. Volunteers, led by Upper Elementary teacher Tara Mosier, painted two staircases. Seven habits from the Leader in Me program were painted on the staircase heading toward the cafeteria, and the staircase by the west entrance, heading up to the second floor, was painted with encouraging words on each riser.

“I knew this project would need to be completed by people willing to donate their time, talents and money,” said Mosier. “Jamie Beaver of Key Realty fully funded the project with all the paint and painting supplies, and Andrea Pepin, owner of Tailgate Garage, took care of purchasing the vinyl and working on the vinyl.”

Each riser was painted after being sanded and cleaned off properly.

“My husband sanded both sets of stairs. The back stairs took more work because they were in rougher shape,” said Mosier.

Both sets of stairs were cleaned, taped off, and painted with enamel paint before the permanent vinyl lettering and clear coat were applied.

“Approximately 40 hours went into the sanding and painting, along with approximately 10 hours in designing and applying the letters,” Mosier noted.

During a professional development day, attending teachers watched a video showcasing how a Leader in Me “lighthouse” school in lower Michigan decorated their school.

“We were inspired to bring color into the building after watching the video. We walked through the halls, brainstorming, and locating areas we could paint,” said Mosier. “Now, with the third graders coming here next school year, we can make it (the building) more age-appropriate for third, fourth, and fifth graders with more color.”

The Escanaba Junior High School, now known as “The U,” was built around 1931. The fireproofed building with steel beams and trusses, concrete floors, and cinder block walls, boasted progressive, state-of-the-art facilities. In 1960, a seven room addition was added to the building, and between 1999 and 2000, residents decided on a renovation of the building instead of constructing a new school. That action won the city a Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation. In 2013, seventh and eighth graders moved into the high school building. The U currently houses fourth through sixth grades, and starting the 2020-2021 school year, third through fifth grades will be in the building.

Mosier has noticed students being very receptive to the newly painted staircases.

“Two students have thanked me for having the stairs painted. A boy said they are beautiful. One student commented that the words help to remind others how to act,” said Mosier. “Most kids have expressed they like the colorful rainbow stairs, and that it brightens up the school. One student told me he liked how there are seven habits and seven different colors on the stairs to go with them.”

Administration and teachers plan to continue adding color to the school in the future.

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