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Color Me Beautiful

Students Brighten Bathrooms to Encourage, Empower Girls


Senior Raven Rochelle knows how much self-image affects girls.

“I know, personally, when you are a female, your image is everything,” she said. “The way you present yourself speaks volumes.”

So Raven and other girls on the high school’s Leadership Council joined forces to transform two girls’ bathrooms into vibrant, welcoming spaces. They painted the walls rose and lilac, hung up funky mirrors and decorated the spaces with signs proclaiming messages of encouragement, like “Never Stop Dreaming” and “You are So Loved.”

“The bathroom in a very personal space,” Raven explained. “(Self image) is so important, specifically in high school when you’re the most vulnerable. If you have that little extra something to get through the day, it helps you so much.”

Students in the Leadership Council attended the Jostens Renaissance National Conference in October at Michigan State University, which focuses on creating positive school climate and culture by working together as students and teachers. They left with the ideas to spruce-up the bathrooms, part of a bigger plan to add color and vibrancy schoolwide.

“We wanted to give a feeling of empowerment for girls,” said freshman Shantil Johnson. “We put mirrors in there so they can see how beautiful they are. … It makes you more happy when you walk in.”

Student Leadership adviser Katie Hoffman said the message is about self-worth.

“In our society in general, I feel like girls in particular and women are being bombarded with images all the time of what they should look like,” Hoffman said. “This is a small way we can encourage people that they don’t need to be anyone other than who they are.”

Senior Giselle Rodriguez stands next to a positive message

Spreading Positivity Schoolwide

The Leadership Council’s efforts could expand into the boys’ bathrooms and hallways. Students are painting individual murals on ceiling tiles in a hallway to exhibit Godwin pride. They also hope to create a hallway mural, illustrating what it means to be part of the Godwin family, Hoffman said.

Senior Giselle Rodriguez said their efforts are about creating a welcoming environment, “building our community inside our school and growing together with our teachers, staff members and classmates.”

Hoffman said a brighter environment is uplifting for everyone.

“Just adding color adds a sense of excitement, creates better attitudes and a better sense of community. Hopefully that pride in the building will carry over to the classroom and the relationships students are building with their peers.”

Raven said the scope of the project is to bring people together, giving a sense of belonging to everyone. “This is our school,” she said.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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