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'Role Models' at Jackson Elementary

Neighbors around Jackson Elementary School on Kenner Avenue got the chance to see Keith Blum's newest mural for DSUSD schools as it was going up over the winter. However, the big green ribbons came out on Friday, Oct. 22 for the official dedication. Children at the school's Playworks Junior Coaches got to meet the muralist himself, as well as City of Indio officials, and of course, the school administrators they see every day as "role models." Fitting, therefore, that the mural is titled, Role Model!

The mural is one in a long list of artworks created by Blum for local schools, which include several in Indio. This particular mural, viewable to the public as they drive south on Jackson Street, features the images of children interacting with President John F. Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and civil rights activists Cesar Chavez and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The blank wall at the school called to Assistant Principal Diane Tijerina. She remembered other murals painted by artist Keith Blum, and the two of them met with Principal José Montaño, Ed.D. The three envisioned American heroes speaking with children, and narrowed the list to the featured four. "I like to imagine that the leaders are encouraging the children to pursue their dreams or giving them advice on how they can be our future leaders," added Tijerina. She then reached out to the Anderson Children’s Foundation, an organization that had funded two previous murals on the campus.

Principal Montaño invited the students to “make a difference.” His word was echoed by Brianna Ulhorn of Anderson Children’s Foundation, who asked the children to be inspired to be leaders. Indio Mayor Elaine Holmes also noted, “You can be whatever you want to be – dream big.” Interviewed by media present at the event, student Mira Smith, celebrating her 11th birthday, chose to stand before the image of her hero, Justice Ginsberg. Mira is part of the Playworks Junior Coaches, a group that assists in the playground during recess, leading games and playing with students.

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