By Nick Elliott
For The Diamondback

The College Park Academy celebrated the installation of new murals in the hallways of the school Friday. The murals seek to display the possibilities of academic and creative career fields.

The charter school, located in the Discovery District, worked with design group Live.Create.Play. to create new murals on the walls of the school.

Sandy Abu-Arja, College Park Academy executive director, said the murals were to contain vivid images, call-to-action quotes, fun facts and 3D elements in the artwork. She said the project had been in the works since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jennifer Byrne, a Live.Create.Play. creator, led the assignment for the murals. The framework was to enable the areas, which she called “stories,” to stand out. She aimed to use a full range of color to emphasize the stories.

“The content deliberately ‘pops’ literally and figuratively,” Byrne said.

The murals are modeled after the colleges at the University of Maryland, with which College Park Academy is associated. The goal is for all 12 schools to be featured as murals, but currently there are only murals for the education college and the engineering school.

[GSG, TerpsVote partner to increase low graduate student voter turnout]

“It takes students on a journey physically through CPA hallways, but it’s a snapshot of the possibilities that lie ahead for them,” Abu-Arja said.

The murals feature stories with Malcolm X, Kermit the Frog, supercars, laptops, drones, biplanes and virtual reality. The images seek to juxtapose the past and present of technology to inspire students to think about the future.

Byrne sees the big picture mission as an opportunity for students and faculty to make their voices heard in the brand vision for CPA. Future ideas include indoor banners that facilitate space for 12 student-driven themed projects, aided by this university’s students, to market the school.

“CPA starts to become a living, breathing brand story, always fresh and uniquely themselves from the inside out,” Byrne said. “Our overarching goal here was to create a solid and flexible brand framework system for CPA which educates and inspires in a way that invites collaboration, mentorship, engagement, interactivity, creativity, empowerment and possibility.”

[UMD journalism college dean to step down in June]

Jarel Moss, a senior at CPA, expressed his admiration for the art installation and identified the murals as giving the school a sense of identity.

“It blew me out of the water … [I’m] really glad to see where the school is really going in the next years,” Moss said. “[There] was nothing there; it was just a white wall, and to see the different things going through the school is very cool.”

The connections between College Park Academy and this university are a chief focus as the charter school expands.

One such connection is CPA Plus, a program that invites volunteers from this university to facilitate a variety of after-school tutoring sessions for students. Much of the CPA staff also collaborates with the university to promote guest speakers or interactive field trips for students.