Monroe junior high inspires students, community with window project

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 3:18 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Carroll Jr. High is starting a new project aimed at inspiring its students and community. Pictures of influential Black leaders were placed in the windows of the school to motivate and encourage onlookers.

The idea began as a safety measure and way to keep classroom temperatures down. Principal Montrell Marshall says they used the opportunity to show their students how bright their futures can be.

“We wanted to celebrate people, influential people, that was a reflection of the kids that go to this school as well as the staff,” Marshall said.

Marshall says he hopes the pictures in the windows will start conversations.

“It gives them an opportunity, a speaking point, so that you can continue the conversation to know. That allows that knowledge, that information, to be transferred from generation to generation.” He said, “It’s important to understand the contribution that we have because our kids have to build on the backs of what’s already been done.”

This project also aims to teach the students the history they may not learn within the school walls. “When they’re not taught, they don’t seem as important or as valued. So when it’s not spoken, there’s a sense of a complex of inferiority. So teaching our kids and our community that there’s so much value already on the inside of them, it helps them to dream bigger.”

The windows are just the latest project to change the culture at “The Junior High.” As they walk through the halls, messages continuing to provide daily affirmations and inspiration to students.

“They get a better sense of their own identity,” Marshall said. “They get a better idea of the things they can achieve. I hope they are inspired by the success of other people. Not only to dream to do the things that they did but also do greater things.”

Some of the familiar faces are athletes, scientists and politicians, for example. Others have made their impact locally in northeast Louisiana.

“Monroe, since I’ve been here, has been described in a way that seems like bad soil,” Marshall said. “There are pioneers in every industry from right here in Monroe. So, I think that it’s important to let our kids know, as well as the community know, that you can be successful coming from Monroe. And all of the resources we have here exactly are what we need.”

Marshall says he hopes this project also inspires and revitalizes the surrounding community. Hopefully, this sparks a culture change and a new narrative for the area.

“It’s a symbol for our community that what we’re doing at this school is much bigger. It’s much greater. So, it’s not just pictures on the window. It’s a sign that there’s an inner change going on in our school building.”

Marshall says there will be more than 200 people pictured when the project is completed, and all groups of people will be represented to show a totality of the community.

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