ST. LOUIS — Students at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis will be heading back to campus on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
They haven't been back since the deadly shooting in October that left a teacher and student dead.
As they make their return, they'll notice some changes.
Multiple murals are painted throughout the building.
St. Louis artist Brock Seals aims to inspire and bring comfort to students through art.
"I chose five different artists and we had about a week and knocked it out in four days," he said.
The five artists include Art Doll, Brooklyn, Deonne Moore, Dave Ruggeri and Nicholas Coulter.
Each one displays different messages through eight different designs.
"When I heard this happened, it was hard, it hit home. You see this in other cities and states. When I heard it was in my backyard, I said these are my people. I was in that school two years prior doing art activity. To think these kids know me or remember me, I had to take action," Seals explained.
Seals' purpose was to use colors and shapes to motivate.
"That was my goal to inspire the kids," he said.
Principal Dr. Kacy Shahid is an alumna of the school and an artist herself.
She said, "Ultimately we want the student artists to take over and paint over the lockers."
Shahid tells 5 On Your Side the idea to do this came after reflecting and thinking of the past.
She said following Ferguson, the community came together and painted murals.
Shahid said, "It was love. I believe our students today use the art for healing, it’s their weapon of choice. It is their passion," Shahid told 5 On Your Side.
She believes art can be therapeutic, but noted, other measures are in place.
When the students go back, there will be 15 to 20 therapists available for individual and group therapists indefinitely.
There will be therapy dogs, as well.
She said additional safety measures have been added.
A St. Louis spokesperson said these security updates include but are not limited to:
- Starting off, CVPA will have a total of eight security officers on site, some of the eight will be armed
- Officer numbers will be subject to change
- CVPA's mobile units and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police will be visible in their patrol of the school and neighborhood
- They replaced more than 160 interior doors and have plans to replace exterior doors, which are presently on backorder
- Installed additional cameras throughout the campus
- CVPA will continue to equip exterior doors to alarm for exits or intrusions
- The Board has approved a real-time notification system that alerts them to any 911 calls in the vicinity of our schools
- The 911RTA subscription service is a partnership with the Regional Justice Information System (REJIS) and SirenGPS, Inc. and it enables CVPA to take immediate safety and security precautions as needed
- Window replacements
- It will host modified intruder drills in conjunction with staff from the Office of Student Services, who will advise them on trauma and triggers
- They will re-institute training
The spokesperson said that nearly all of the systems these upgrades will support were already in place on Oct. 24 and most of these upgrades were a part of its Prop S bond issue, which passed in August.
As for comfort, Seals believes, the art will draw in hope.
"I think it will bring happiness, I think it will lighten the mood, it'll inspire them and motivate them to be happy and feel safe at school," Seals shared.
If you're interested in offering support, you can donate to the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation and be specific about helping CVPA.