Sprucing Up Campus: Beautification Projects Abounding at Community Colleges

Sprucing Up Campus: Beautification Projects Abounding at Community Colleges
Community colleges have big beautification plans this summer to prepare their campuses for the fall. Learn about some of the lovely and innovative projects in store this summer, even for budget-strapped schools.

Summer is the time that many homeowners kick their renovation projects in high gear, but homeowners aren't the only ones sprucing up their environment this year. Community colleges around the country are finding ways to make the campus experience more attractive to students and staff. Despite tight budgets for many schools, some are getting creative in finding ways to spruce up their campus grounds without breaking the bank. We'll take a look at how three community colleges are providing their students with a prettier place to head back to class.

Taking Trash to a Whole New Level

Laredo Community College art students have found a new way to bring their artistic endeavors to life. According to a recent report in the Laredo Sun, many of the art students at this school have spent the last semester experimenting with a brand new medium – large steel drums that serve as outdoor trash cans throughout the campus. The painted drums are a part of a Laredo campus beautification project known as "Yes We Can!"

For this part of the project, art students painted 19 well-known works of art onto the cans, including masterpieces by Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and Diego Rivera. Creating a design for the paintings from a two-dimensional canvas to a cylinder was more than a little challenging. Students began by reproducing pictures from an art history book and transferring them onto a 3-foot cylinder using a redrawing technique. From there, students designed their images in a larger scale to meet the dimensions of the larger trash cans.

Laredo art instructor Larry Brown told the Sun, "This project was part of our night class. Students were so eager with their project that some hauled the trash cans to their pick-up trucks and worked on it at home during the weekends."

One of the art students that worked on the project, Cristell Rodriguez, was pleased with the results. She told the Sun, "We had some of the best and most qualified students work on this and it shows. I enjoyed working on this painting because I love working with my hands to create something new." Rodriguez recreated Georgia O'Keefe's "Oriental Poppies." She added, "When I walk past these trash cans, I know it'll put a smile on my face knowing that I helped to beautify the campuses."

With students doing the work on the drums, the experience was a win-win for the college. Art students received experience working with a medium they had never used before, while the college campus got a low cost enhancement that everyone at the school can enjoy.

Houston College Blends Beautification and History

Redevelopment projects are also in full swing at one Texas community college, specifically at the central campus of Houston Community College. The long-awaited projects are slated to encompass 90 block fronts in and around the college campus, and it will include a replica of the San Jacinto Monument, according to the Ultimate Montrose.

Randy Sahni, president of the organization in charge of the redevelopment projects, told the Montrose, "The work to be done is a significant part of the revitalization of Houston's Midtown, and it will dramatically change the campus ambience at HCC Central Campus. The new look and new features will provide a sense of place with a sense of arrival, and become a destination for visitors and residents."

The revitalization project is being funded through the HCC board, which voted in January of this year to provide the necessary money for the redevelopment of the historic San Jacinto Building. The project is designed to enhance the appearance of the building and plaza, while reinforcing the architectural qualities of the original building.

Matt Thibodeaux, executive director for the Midtown Development Authority, told the Montrose, "It's going to be wonderful for the Midtown community. There's a lot of opportunity in Midtown for development, and these two projects just add to all of the amenities we have."

Gary Young, a Midtown resident, agrees. Young told the Montrose, "I've heard about what's going on and I just can't tell you how glad I am to see new development. I'm a firm believer in building up the community in which you live, so the construction and upgrades we'll see here will only add to what's already here. Hopefully it will attract more people to the district. It's a great place to be."

Flowers Added to Virginia College by Local Garden Club

Southwest Virginia Community College relies on the Richland Garden Club to assist with their campus beautification. This school has endorsed a campus-wide landscaping and beautification project that includes the garden club's services, according to the college website. Areas of the campus have been "adopted" by various college departments that have committed to cleaning and sprucing up the campus grounds.

The garden club became interested in the beautification project as well, and it offered their services for the job. Members of the garden club have been busily filling outdoor containers with flowers throughout the campus. They have also hired the services of a local resident to help with the weeding and mulching of the grounds where needed. The group has arranged for memorial donations to help with the beautification project as well.

Beautification projects are going on at community colleges across the country this summer, promising returning students a fresher, prettier campus to take classes when fall arrives. From landscaping to fine art, students and faculty will be pleasantly surprised with some of the enhancements taking place. With plenty of help and a variety of creative funding options, colleges are finding ways to make their campuses more attractive without breaking their budgets.

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