Battles Elementary School was given new shades of color and a makeover on Wednesday using a grant aimed at enhancing local schools through campus improvements. 

More than 100 volunteers put on their work gloves, grabbed paint or helped with landscaping as part of the beautification project funded by a Give and Grow grant through Safran Seats, which bought Zodiac Aerospace in 2018.

Give and Grow is the nonprofit leg of the company.

Volunteers, who worked from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., included a number of Safran Seats employees, as well as faculty members and parents of children who attend Battles.

Projects included sprucing up the walls by splashing paint, beautifying the school library and installing a new garden area.

The primary goal, however? Getting the kids excited about colorful schemes that give Battles new energy, according to murals leader Alicia Zuniga and Principal Victor Velazquez.

“This is what elementary schools should look like,” Zuniga said. “They should have this kind of color to draw the children in and give them that positive vibe.”

Zodiac Aerospace previously provided Give and Grow grants to several schools in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, according to a district spokeswoman.

Each year, schools apply for a grant, and Give and Grow board members determine the recipient. Over the past 10 years, 11 schools have received a makeover. 

Safran Seats has continued the work Zodiac Aerospace began, holding fundraisers through its nonprofit to help with the school projects. 

A large part of Wednesday's effort involved the creation of murals on 11 walls, depicting sports, unity and iconic local venues like the Pismo Pier. 

Velazquez said his school has never had wall illustrations of this magnitude before.

“This is the first time we’ve had murals on our site at all,” Velazquez explained. “So for us, this is huge to have this type of art and color for our kids.”

One image was called “The Character Mural,” which required eight volunteers using the stroke of their paint brushes to design animals holding hands with six words emblazoned inside a rainbow on the left-hand side: responsibility, integrity, fairness, honesty, respect and caring.

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The library also was refreshed with ceiling art made from paper products. 

“We want to make the library inviting and warm,” Velazquez said. “We want to make this the heart of the school. Our biggest thing is encouraging students to read, and this is taking a big step. We want them to come in and enjoy being around books.”

In addition to work at the library and on the murals, the kindergarten fence was spruced up through colorful plastic cups, all creating a design of a small dog next to a strawberry tree.

Velazquez was impressed by the number of volunteers ready to serve. 

“They’re very organized and very meticulous,” Velazquez said. “With having so many people come, it just makes the job go really quick.”

Adding to the excitement were the looks on the children’s faces during recess hours when they saw what was being colored in and installed on their campus.

“That’s what makes it more awesome: They’re there to watch us work, give us high-fives, cheer us on and say thank you. It’s real motivating,” Zuniga said.  

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