By Dave Crawley

PITCAIRN (KDKA) — Does a “bright” environment encourage “bright” students? A Pittsburgh-based paint company has teamed up with the United Way to find out.

This year’s theme for grade one students at Propel Charter School of Pitcairn is “Welcome to One-Derland.” Volunteers from PPG Paints use their own products to brighten the classrooms and create off-the-wall designs. Painting the walls and creating murals is part of their Colorful Communities program.

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“We’re hoping it will inspire kids to like to come to school, read and learn,” says volunteer Denise Bell.

Tammy Aupperle says the PPG projects have three primary goals: “Partnership with a non-profit organization. Our employees volunteering at those organizations. And finally, using our products in those spaces.”

PPG has teamed up with United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Propel School is one of four local agencies that will benefit.

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“Agencies that rise to the top,” explains United Way spokeswoman Lois Mufuka Martin. “Propel is one of them. We looked at their strong outcomes, we looked at what they do for children in the community, and most importantly, we looked to see that they do what they say they’re going to do.”

The school’s slogan is “Pitcairn Proud.” It helps that every student is included.

Propel principal Ariane Watson says first graders are in for a colorful surprise on the first day of school.

“It’s exciting for them,” she said. “I’d imagine they’re going to go home and describe it pretty accurately, because they’re going to know that going home day one, and that’s going to get them back here day two, excited and ready.”

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