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Liberty student paints walls with history

Wednesday, Jul. 9 | By Hannah Dellinger
Emory Austin Cornwell sitting in front of his mural.
Photo by Adam Goings
Emory Austin Cornwell used to get in trouble for doodling in class. Half way through his senior year, one teacher decided to put his creative energy to use.

Liberty High School teacher Paula Ramos decided that Cornwell’s talents could be used to beautify her plain, white, windowless brick classroom. Cornwell, a graduating LHS senior, was assigned the task of painting a mural that would mark the 20th anniversary of the school.

“I was always drawing in my classes and I guess they took notice of that and for years I would get in trouble for that,” said Cornwell. “I guess instead of getting me in trouble, Ms. Ramos wanted to finally put it to use.”

Ramos enlisted the help of students to select important events in LHS and world history that mark each year that the school has been open.

Cornwell painted everything freehand, from the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to an LHS teacher appearing on jeopardy, to Hurricane Katrina, to the cloning of Dolly the sheep.

He only had three months to complete the mural before graduation, painting about three hours a day during the two classes that he had with Ramos and sometimes working through lunchtime.

“It was kind of hard, because I had to study for my A.P. testing, so I was worried that it wouldn’t get finished,” said Cornwell.

Cornwell finished the mural with help from classmates, in spite of his time constraints and 17 snow days.

He said that Ramos created the project as a special way to encourage his talents.

“Since Austin had already mastered the material for his English, it was decided to allow him to work on the mural during an alternatively structured class,” said Ramos.

She said that she had seen in Cornwell a talent for multitasking, which he put to good use while he worked on the wall mural.

“One of the most interesting things I have learned about Austin is how he can be sitting there, seemingly immersed in his artwork, yet at the same time, he hears what I'm teaching,” she said. “Suddenly, he will make an insightful comment about the piece of literature we are discussing.”

Cornwell says that Ramos was his favorite teacher at the school, because she taught him “just to be myself.”

He hopes that the students that pass through Ramos’ classroom will learn something from the mural.

“I hope that it teaches them something,” he said. “A lot of kids didn’t even know about the plane landing on the Hudson or Dolly and a lot of this stuff, and it’s important for them to know about it all.”

Cornwell plans to study film at Full Sail University in Florida this fall.

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