ST. CLOUD -- Students are celebrating equality through art at South Jr. High School. Jim VanHorn's art class created two portraits of Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of MLK Day and Black History Month.

VanHorn says he assigned the project to encourage students to work in groups and to achieve their goals through art.

"I wanted to take what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for as a collaborative, everyone working together, in a cohesive unit to make the world a better place. Also, they weren't working with color hence the term white and black and how these tints and shades can get along to make the world a better place through their art."

Each student tinted or shaded a one-inch by one-inch square to help produce the final image. 8th grade student Wren Scott-Lumbar says no one in the class knew exactly what the project was until it was finished.

"When we started out we didn't know what we were going to make, we were given these little chips, that we had to copy off of using chalk or charcoal."

Even though the artists weren't told what the final image would be, 8th grade student Spencer Gustin says he started to figure out it was of a person early on.

"It was surprising to me because someone who was sitting behind me had an eye and I thought mine didn't mean anything, and I look back and see an eye. Then I started to realize it was going to be some sort of person."

Gustin says several students were honored to be a part of the project.

"Our classrooms here at South [Jr. High] are really diverse and to have everybody come together, to represent a great man, and draw his drawing is a great idea. And it really helps bring us all together."

The project is on display at the Waite Park Public Library throughout February.

Jim VanHorn instructing student. (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)