Urban Experience Reflexive Matt Mugavero

Chicago Public Schools have and will always be a part of my life. My father has taught Physical Education here at Nathanael Greene Elementary for nearly 30 years. Growing up I was aware of the issues, good or bad, surrounding CPS because of him.
My dad has always been actively involved in extra-curriculars with the students. In the past, I have gone to work with him and helped out not only during the day in class, but after school as well. This has helped me gain valuable experience as to what is like to work with students in an urban environment.
Being at Benito Juarez Community Academy, reminded me a lot of my father's school and the surrounding community. In fact his school is only about two miles away.
The school and community surrounding is filled with rich culture and diverse heritage. There is absolutely a sense of unity amongst the students and community as a whole. They work together and help pick each other up when times get tough.
Walking up to the school, a beautiful asset that immediately catches the eye is the soccer field. The state of the art, turf field is perfect for physical education as well as after school sports. The gymnasium as well is equipt with multiple basketball courts, volleyball nets, a retractable batting cage, and can be used for much more.
The school also has an aquatic center and a fitness room they actively use in physical education. It gives students the opportunity to be active in various aspects and find out what they like. This gives them an opportunity to find their passion for fitness and hopefully become life long movers.
The school and community are surrounded by fine art and various means of expression. I did not expect to see such intricate detail everywhere you turn. The school had an abundance of student work around the building and the community supported local artists.
Some challenges the students face include discrimination and poverty. Not to mention the ever present violence that accompanies Chicago streets. The students have to learn to break free from the mold, be their own person, and reach for the stars.
This trip has given me a new appreciation for culture and tradition. In the new technology driven age we live in, we tend to solely look to the future for the latest gadgets and cutting edge technology, but sometimes we have to stop and reflect back on where we came from and why we are here.
The museum had tons of fantastic artistic expressions and artifacts to learn from. I am usually not one for the arts, but taking time to appreciate each piece and having a guided tour to explain each significance really opened my eyes.
This painting stuck out to me because of the intricacy within that you would not even notice. For example, the two men in the background have zippers for their jackets, but also they are barrels of a gun pointing at you. It depicts violence in Chicago.
Here is a Diamond Back Rattlesnake carved from one solid piece of wood. This taught me to think more creatively and that if you have a vision, see it through because the end result may just be perfection.
Now if only we all could take this message to heart and focus less of our time on hate and more on tacos, the world would be a much better place.
This is just a painting I really liked. I don't know if it is even classified as a painting; it was spray painted right on the wall. I'm not big on abstract, but this explosion of color and geometry really stuck with me.
Thank you Benito Juarez for this experience and thank you Dr. Percell for taking us! Have a nice summer!
Created By
Matt Mugavero

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