At Capital High, students are encouraged to go out and pursue college, career and other post-secondary interests as part of a 'Leaving to Learn' program. The opportunities are coordinated by Capital High Learning Coordinator Joel Jarosky, in conjunction with students and staff. In the 2017-2018 school year, community-based projects were part of the second semester 'Leaving to Learn' experiences and the group became involved with 'Mural Alley', a project funded by the Madison Arts Commission, with support from Madison Public Library and the Madison Public Library Foundation.
Students began by investigating the concept of community murals and researching different murals from around the world. They discussed why artists use murals as activism, and why Madison wanted to put murals around the city. After that, students went to the Wisconsin Historical Society to do some research on the east side of Madison, and to look for potential historical images to inform the mural design. Students then began identifying different areas of interest, and started working on how those areas could connect to the mural project. They then self-selected into different groups according to their skills and interests:
- One group wanted to continue developing the mural design with Wisconsin artist Pete Hodapp - this then became the group that led the actual painting of the mural.
- Another group wanted to make a video documentary around the process of making the mural, so MOD Media came in to support students in using a camera, shooting B-roll and conducting street interviews.
- The last group wanted to write and create/produce songs as a soundtrack to the mural, so Rob Dz and Richard Jones came in to support them in creating beats, writing lyrics, and eventually self-producing their own tracks in the studio at the Central Library's Media Lab. They based these songs around the theme of community.
When it came down to painting the mural, all students had an opportunity to get involved.
Madison Mural Alley's Opening Celebration was held on Monday, August 13, 2018.