ALAMEDA -- The Main Library's teen center has a new look, thanks to a mural unveiled Sunday in the second-floor space, where students go to read, study and relax.
The colorful painting was made by 14 Alameda High School students and recent graduates, led by Alameda High School teacher Margaret Morrissey and teen services librarian Matt Conciatori.
It includes familiar images from the Island -- the USS Hornet and Encinal High School jet -- along with imaginary creatures such as a dragon and a sea monster.
"The room feels completely different now," Conciatori said. "It really feels like teens have taken ownership of their space with the mural."
"We thought (about) books and how we wanted to mix both real life and fantastical elements into the mural," said Cari Hartigan, a student volunteer. "That's what the library can do with your life -- make it more magical."
The students spent time after school and five weekends to complete the painting.
"It was a lot of fun," Hartigan said. "It's amazing to see how everything came together since so many people shared their unique skills."
While Morrissey served as the student's mentor and guide, Devon Yee acted as the leader for the students. With the mural, the teens "have created a living memory of art," Yee said at Sunday's unveiling, acknowledging Morrissey's dedication to the effort.
"It's been a wonderful experience to work with you, and I'm truly grateful for your involvement," she said. "Libraries are borderless -- with their books -- and learning is limitless."
The library began asking for ideas for the mural in August last year. Yee and Hartigan came through with the "magical-realism" concept.
"We were thrilled to explore it, since they gave me such an amazing concept and sketch," Conciatori said. "It was impossible to say 'no,' and we couldn't have done it without Morrissey's involvement and everyone else's help."
"The students really did it all," explained Charlie Milgrim, an art teacher at Alameda High and art club sponsor. "They made it all happen and didn't get discouraged."
Guests at the unveiling shared their enthusiasm for the mural with the students.
"The library is about education, literacy and building community," said Catherine Atkin, a library board member. "You all have done that here, which is fantastic."
"All those involved with the mural should feel tremendous pride," Conciatori said. "There were many seniors who worked on it. I can't think of a better way to have a send-off than this. It speaks to their experience and time in Alameda."
The mural artists and volunteers include Dawnia Brody, Jonathan Chan, Annie Choy, Natalie Devey, Sukie Eggert, Cari Hartigan, Kimberly Lantz, Jason Lee, Ryan Lee, Andrew Liu, Sarina Ngo, Sonia Xu, Devon Yee and Brian Zhen.