• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Inspiring, inspirational words begin year at WCMS

EMPOWERING WORDS and messages were added to the newly-painted walls in the girls' bathrooms at Woodford County Middle School. WCMS parents and teachers worked tirelessly last Wednesday - one day before classes started in Woodford County Public Schools - to finish the walls. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Parents and teachers at Woodford County Middle School stayed busy repainting walls in the girls' bathrooms last Wednesday, Aug. 9, so returning students would see bright colors and - most importantly - uplifting, positive words on the first day of school last Thursday. WCMS teacher Paige Samples said she wanted to bring some inspiring messages to students at her school after reading an article posted on Facebook about a group of teachers at an Alabama middle school who repainted the girls' bathroom walls in their school - adding self-affirming messages for female students.

TAMARA BRADLEY, foreground, worked alongside Dawn Staff, president of the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization, to repaint walls in the girls' bathrooms at Woodford County Middle School last Wednesday morning. Jaime Cheek is also pictured. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Several teachers shared this desire to do a similar project at WCMS, and Samples was amazed by how quickly teachers and parents made it happen here. With the support of local donors who provided paint and other supplies, the WCMS Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO) project got underway last Tuesday morning and continued Wednesday. It's become "more than I could've imagined," said Samples. She credited PTSO President Dawn Staff for doing "an amazing job" by getting volunteers and donations to make this project happen in two days. She thought it might take a bit longer to finish adding the vinyl decals with uplifting messages, but everything was finished on the first day of school, and Staff could hardly wait to see how the middle school students would react to the bathroom makeovers. "We just wanted to add color, brighten it up, make it happy," said Staff, whose daughter is a seventh-grader at WCMS. A couple of her favorite inspirational messages being added to the girls' bathrooms: "You are amazing" and "You matter." "We want them to know that ... they're someone, they're special to all of us," said Samples, a language arts teacher. "Each one of them matters immensely to us. And this is a small thing that we can do to let them know how much we care about them." Principal Tracy Bruno described the inspirational words and messages on the bathroom walls as "a great way to reiterate to our female students that they have the power and ability to do anything they want to do in life. Someone else's opinion of them does not define them." The PTSO also plans to do a special project for the boys at WCMS so they'll have "something cool" in their bathrooms that they can take pride in, Samples said. "Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grades are particularly challenging times - not just academically, but socially," she said. "...So anything that we can do to nurture that (nonacademic) part of them is important to us as teachers too."

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