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August 13, 2013 > Mt. Eden High captivates with artistic surprises

Mt. Eden High captivates with artistic surprises

Submitted By Bruce Roberts
Photos By Guy Sandoval

A high school campus in summer is a lonely place: Parking lot... empty. Hallways... empty. Tables and benches... empty. This was my reaction recently visiting Mt. Eden High School in Hayward. A few summer school students wandered eventually in but overall, the huge campus seemed quiet, and a little forlorn.

That is, until I noticed the murals. Despite summer abandonment, there are flashes of color everywhere on campus. Large murals adorn the end walls of buildings, and many classrooms are covered by a vivid mural on the door, signaling what is taught inside. Hamlet, Frankenstein, a large chess set, and Cesar Chavez were among the many decorative doors that livened up the Mt. Eden scene.

This was especially true when I turned the knob of a door adorned with Hokusai's famous painting, The Great Wave, where traditional Mt. Fuji has turned into a beautiful redhead, the room of Carrie King, Mt. Eden's outstanding art teacher, and the moving force behind the public art all over campus.

To walk through that portal was to instantly forget the lonely summer appearance of the outside scene. This room is a cornucopia of creativity, with works-in-progress everywhere.

Mrs. King, a veteran teacher and recipient of several supporting grants from the Hayward Educational Foundation, is creating costumes for a dance production of Lion King this year. Mt. Eden is not only blessed with a wonderful art program, but its Stage Left Dance Program, under the direction of teacher Courtney Marshal, takes the visual creativity of art and moves it to a physical plain of movement.

Anyone who has seen The Lion King on stage knows that the production involves a large cast, with intricate, exciting costumes. To sit in the audience is to be transported to the Serengeti of Africa with all the power and grace of a National Geographic documentary.

This is an ambitious collaboration by teachers King and Marshal; one look around the art room shows that the groundwork is being laid well in advance. Although performances are not until next year, May 2014, masks with horns, tusks, teeth, all vividly painted - or about to be - fill every counter, every inch of wall space. Tables are graced with costumed mannequins wearing grass (green yarn) skirts.

Art teachers use everything, so most of the material is scrounged and recycled. This is the second time King and Marshal have put on this show, but the masks must all be redone, because, who knew mice loved paper mache? Now a much lighter cloth material and some mouse repellant bad-tasting glue will make the dancers even lighter on their feet than before.

After 35 years in the classroom, I know that good teachers are busy teachers. But the amount of work going into this collaboration between these two terrific teachers is phenomenal. And, because of the necessary student involvement in creating and performing, there are teachable moments at every turn. Best wishes and much success to all in the upcoming school year!

Editor's Note: Bruce Roberts serves on the Board of Hayward Education Foundation.

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