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Shades Cahaba Elementary students speading joy through paint

The Shades Cahaba tunnel that runs under Highway 31 in Homewood is getting a lot more colorful.
The Shades Cahaba tunnel that runs under Highway 31 in Homewood is getting a lot more colorful.(Shilo Groover, WBRC)
Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 5:21 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Shades Cahaba tunnel that runs under Highway 31 in Homewood is getting a lot more colorful.

Students from Shades Cahaba Elementary School are painting the tunnel as part of an art project spearheaded by Art Teacher Lisa Holland. She says it’s giving students something to look forward to during the pandemic.

“They don’t have field trips, they don’t have mystery readers come into the building there is a lot that has changed. This is a pretty big project and the fact that we are getting to continue to do it through the pandemic is kind of surprise and it’s worked out,” says Holland.

The Shades Cahaba tunnel that runs under Highway 31 in Homewood is getting a lot more colorful.
The Shades Cahaba tunnel that runs under Highway 31 in Homewood is getting a lot more colorful.(Shilo Groover, WBRC)

The students started this week with three colors lining the entrance to the tunnel, and eventually they will fill in the words of the “Shades Cahaba Way”

“That’s the 6 life lessons that we use to guide our students,” explains Holland. The list includes things like listen to others and show respect to all.

The tunnel will include a mural of iconic Homewood scenes that will be outlined by Blank Space Birmingham. The students will complete it in a paint by number style.

The idea is something that Holland and city councilor Jennifer Andress dreamed up two years ago, though it’s just now coming to life.

“I had already had so many people have positive thoughts about what is going on, not only people live here but people who come here to Homewood to run, walk and recreate,” says Andress. “We have so many people who come to run through our tunnels and sidewalks and trials and this going to be such a fun thing for them to take in as the walk or run on by.”

The Shades Cahaba tunnel that runs under Highway 31 in Homewood is getting a lot more colorful.
The Shades Cahaba tunnel that runs under Highway 31 in Homewood is getting a lot more colorful.(Shilo Groover, WBRC)

The city donated money for the paint and prepped with the tunnel walls with sandblasting.

The students are learning an environmental lesson too. The trays for their paint, are repurposed from the school lunches. Due to the pandemic each student is served in their own individual plastic container.

“Since the lunch room had to change how they delivered the food waste has been a problem. We’ve always been a pretty green school,” explains Holland. “It’s been nice for the second graders to gather the trays and be able to reuse them. I am hoping that also sticks with them too, that we have to repurpose everything we use.”

Every student from Kindergarten to 5th grade will have a hand in the painting project. It’s expected to be complete next fall.

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