NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Albert Leonard Middle School students returning to class this month found a bright new mural encouraging them to be kind.
Larry Minetti, an ALMS parent and an art teacher in the Bronx, spent many of his summer evenings at the school, creating a stairwell mural, 18 feet tall and 10 feet wide, that students couldn't miss. Its anti-bullying message, in vibrant letters: "One kind word can change someone's entire day."
Minetti sponge-painted a blue and white background to give an outdoorsy sky-like feeling. Words pop out in bright acrylics of yellow, red and green. Silhouettes of two rock climbers bracket the scene.
"If kids read that message and see those bright colors, they might think twice about behaving a certain way and decide to be positive," Minetti said. "A kid might read it, and something might click. If that connects with them, that's fantastic."
He visited ALMS - the school his daughters attend - after work many days, to paint for a few hours. In completing the painting, he offered the school a beacon that joins the school's many anti-bullying projects.
"With all of the things he participates in - his role as a father, a teacher, his painting parties and workshops - the fact that he found the time to give back speaks volumes about the community members in New Rochelle," said ALMS Principal John Barnes. "That he found the time to lend his talent, his time and his expertise and heart to our community is an inspiration to students, and to everyone. We couldn't be more grateful."