Video at: http://bit.ly/3vzfrDq.
March 13, 2021
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA—Over 1,200 heartfelt notes of hope, loss, friendship, and comfort are on display at Walnut High School marking the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 closure.
The “Mustang Messages” support students who have been learning from a distance since March 13, 2020.
The outreach effort has given teens an opportunity to reflect back on the year of isolation.
Student leaders from Key Club, National Honor Society, Leo Club, Hands 4 Hope, and Care and Connect collaborated on the project.
“It’s an outlet for everyone to express their feelings,” said senior and Key Club president Annika Le, age.17.
For the past two weeks, students, staff, parents, and community members submitted personal notes through a Google Docs online form.
“These Mustang Messages are here to commemorate the fact we’ve been apart for an entire year,” noted senior and Key Club vice president Nishabell Rubio.
“It’s felt like forever,” the 17-year-old said recalling last year’s email notifying families that school was abruptly shuttered due to the global pandemic.
“Every person’s experience is so unique and I feel like this project sheds a light on everyone’s experiences,” Le added.
Volunteers worked Friday printing, cutting, sorting, and tucking notes into clear plastic nametag holders.
On Saturday, March 13, they gathered in two-hour shifts at the tennis court fencing on La Puente Road to secure the notecards with ribbons.
The messages were neatly arranged to spell out “WHS” in blue and gold school colors, followed by a huge bright red heart.
The final step was outlining the 20-foot-long display in lights.
Walnut High students sent kind words and “shout-outs” to seniors, students, and faculty members, and answered questions like “What do you feel like you missed out on?” or “What did you gain this year?”
“All these little notes talk about how people miss their school life and giving us encouraging words,” Rubio said.
“It’s actually really sweet to see it all come together!”
Rubio and Le came up with the idea while talking before a Zoom club event.
“We’re all alone in the house – even though we’re experiencing the same thing,” Rubio explained.
Rubio also shared that she hadn’t seen her close friends in three months.
“We took for granted that we could see our friends every single day and wondered how many other things we took for granted before this.”
Le said Class of 2021 seniors in all the service clubs told her they were grateful for the project.
“Especially because they have missed out on a lot of their experiences.”
The Walnut High School Community Club supported the Mustang Messages with signage and supplies.
“The kids are isolated at home and maybe if they read some of these messages they won’t feel so alone,” said parent Lily Eibert, the club’s president.
“We hope our students, especially our seniors know we care and are here to support them!”
“Thank you to our community who wrote all the kind messages to Walnut High School,” said teacher and Key Club advisor Justin Panlilio.
“For many, it’s been a rough ride through the pandemic and distance learning was a challenge – particularly on our mental health,” he shared.
“Here we are making connections and doing what we can to bring us all together.”
Over 1,200 Mustang Messages are displayed at Walnut High School to commemorate one-year anniversary of school closure. On Saturday, March 13, service club members tie messages to fencing to complete display.
Walnut High seniors and Key Club officers Nishabell Rubio and Annika Le work celebrate Mustang Messages display that supports fellow students.