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RHS students spread positive message through memorial mural

One year after the death of Russellville High School student Yohalani Mojica, RHS is still healing. In honor of Mojica, students spent the one year anniversary of her death working on a mural of wings in the hallway.

Russellville High School assistant principal Natalie Bendall said she and several teachers tried to think of ways to lift students up after Mojica died last year and loved the idea of doing a mural.

“I think this has been very healing for the students – to be able to have a place to come together and work on this,” Bendall said.

Bendall said although the mural began as a way to allow students to heal after Mojica’s death, that is not its sole purpose.

“The mural is in memory of, but it’s not dedicated to,” Bendall said. “We wanted something where any student could walk down the hall and see a part of themselves in that mural. Even students who didn’t know Yohalani will be able to understand.”

Bendall said the inspiration for the mural came from world-famous artist Kelsey Montague and her saying, “what lifts you up.”

“The purpose was to have students put pieces of themselves into the mural,” Bendall said. “We wanted this to be about all of the things that lift students up instead of things that can bring them down. We wanted to give students the opportunity to grow closer together.”

The mural, located in the main hallway in the high school, is in the shape of wings filled with words and illustrations like a soccer ball, rainbow and the RHS Golden Tiger.

Students submitted design ideas to Bendall of things that lifted them up, and then the design was added to the mural.

“We have already had quite a bit of excitement around it,” Bendall said. “The students really seem to love it.”

Bendall said although the mural is still changing, students have already started using it as a location for pictures.

“Any student can get in front of it and know that a piece of them is in that mural,” Bendall said. “It is a visual representation of everyone coming together.”