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Color scheme: Park’s STEM classrooms get new hues from PPG

Wade Luhman of Andersen Corporation joined District 833 Grant & Wellness Coordinator Jodi Witte for the PPG Colorful Communities painting project June 20 at Park High School. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia

For the record, it wasn't blue paint that volunteers Wade Luhman and Jodi Witte rolled and dabbed on the walls of a classroom at Park High School — it was Sea Sprite.

Down the hall, others workers from PPG, Andersen Corporation and the South Washington County School District were busy transforming a classroom in shades of Lullaby Blue and Cajun Spice.

"A lot of science goes into color," PPG manager Bernie Ackerman said during the June 20 gathering. "How it affects the brain, how it is received by the eye."

The right color — and its potential effect on mood, productivity and quality of life — undergirds the PPG Colorful Communities program, a global philanthropic initiative in which PPG provides manpower, paint and financial support to revivify hospitals, playgrounds and classrooms.

Park is the first PPG Colorful Communities project in the Twin Cities metro.

In addition to providing 50 gallons of paint, rollers, brushes and bodies, PPG also presented Park High School with a $5,000 check to help with the furtherance of their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.

Park students and staff looked at computer graphics provided by PPG designers.

"They created a mock-up and advised us accordingly," Park principal Ginger Garski said. "They

gave us a huge color palette and we worked from there to see what made sense.

The walls of Park's Community Inclusion Center were recast in a soothing shade of Moss Point Green. Volunteers also painted two STEM classrooms: the Geometry in Construction Room (Geo-construction) and the Inventor Space.

The Inventor Space was paid for in part with a $25,000 grant from Andersen Corporate Foundation. The company operates a Renewal by Andersen manufacturing facility in the Cottage Grove Business Park. They forged a classrooms-to-careers partnership with Park High School in 2016, when they expanded their site from 225,000 square feet to 349,000 square feet. Kimberly Welch, vice president of corporate affairs for Andersen Corporation, said businesses have a responsibility to show students how STEM skills can serve them in the job market.

"It's just such an important career path for a lot of these young students," she said.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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