Summit Academy School – Lorain Intervention Specialist Monica Ralph (left) and Mathematics Teacher Katelyn Botke (right) created a sweeping mural intended to “speak to” students on personal and academic levels.

Images of legendary jedi master Yoda, activist Coretta Scott King, Edgar Allen Poe, Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” astronaut Ellen Ochoa, William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein and famed American painter Bob Ross begin to tell the story behind the sweeping new mural at Summit Academy School – Lorain.

Punctuated with black-and-white imagery and moving passages, the panorama aims to inspire students. With its incorporation of quotes such as Nelson Mandela’s “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” how could it miss?

Located on the school’s second floor, along the high school hallway, the mural exceeds the goal Principal Mike Williston had in mind when he proposed the idea.

“In the beginning I asked to make our school more welcoming and asked if anyone wanted to paint a mural or something along those lines,” Williston explains.

Intervention Specialist Monica Ralph and Mathematics Teacher Katelyn Botke ran with the concept.

While the 3-foot-high x 127-foot-long mural does not yet have a formal title, “Amalgamation” fueled its formation, according to Ralph.

“Through the definition of the word, images began to form, and the vision was created,” Ralph explains. “It represents the actions students can take to affect positive change; the process of growth through knowledge, and the result of collaboration between educators used to inspire a love of learning in students.”

The mural pays tribute to scholastic subject matter and celebrates the school’s expanding project-based learning environment. It also serves to express Summit Academy’s restorative practices vision and spark students’ curiosities, Ralph explains.

“My hope is to show students people throughout history who have come from challenging situations, to inspire them to be their best,” Ralph says. “We want to engage students through curiosity to have conversations with teachers about what different images represent, to bring community and social-emotional learning into their minds as they progress through their education.”


 Details, details

Botke brought her creative spirit to the project, incorporating pop culture imagery such as depictions of Scooby Doo, SpongeBob, The Avengers, Zombies, Batman and Lord of the Rings. The art aspires to “speak to” students personally as well as express the common ground different generations share, Ralph explains.

“Katie has used her exceptional talents to add some much-needed detail work including ‘The Tell-Tale Heart,’ ‘The Raven,’ Yoda and Mario, which has an entire math unit connected to its images,” Ralph says. “Katie’s understanding of pop culture references that will connect to the students has been invaluable and should add to their curiosity.”

Overall, the project represents a collaboration that involved input from teachers throughout the school. Ralph and Botke spent more than 100 hours, over the course of several Saturdays, creating the piece.