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Mural celebrates Oakwood School's many cultures

LEMONT – Oakwood School in Lemont has added a new piece of art just in time for the new school year.

Inspired by the many global cultures that make up the school's student body, Oakwood parent Arsa Ibianskas painted a welcoming mural at the school's front entrance depicting the world encircled by children.

Oakwood Principal Cathy Slee estimates Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A offers English Language Learner services for students speaking 24 different languages.

The mural highlights that diversity by displaying the word "hello" in several languages: English, Spanish, Polish, Lithuanian, Ukranian and Italian.

Slee said an ELL teacher came up with the idea for the mural a couple of years ago and the school has wanted to see it come to fruition ever since.

"It was a dream and finding the right person," she said.

Slee met Ibianskas during an event at a Lithuanian Saturday school in Lemont. They started planning the mural in late spring and the painting took place from Aug. 12 to 15.

As people walk in the front entrance, the mural is on the right. On the left, there is a poem describing how boring the world would be without different languages and cultures.

Ibianskas said she thinks children will look for similarities between themselves and the children in the mural. She also knows from personal experience how seeing her culture represented makes her feel special.

"It's such a small thing," she said. "But I think it will have a big impact."

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