Pay It Forward’ sculpture unveiled

A sculpture with the letters PIF, meaning Pay It Forward, was unveiled Monday on the green space outside the Ector County ISD administration building.

A collaborative project between Complex Community Federal Credit Union, the AVID program and Career and Technical Education students, it is meant to inspire future generations of students.

Each panel of the iron sculpture includes an inspiring phrase of hope. It was created by 2020 seniors as part of the senior experience.

In his remarks, Superintendent Scott Muri talked about partnerships.

“Today is really a celebration of partnership, a celebration of one of those opportunities. The object that you see behind me did not happen because of one person, one organization, one club, or one district. It happened because a variety of different individuals and organizations came together with a common vision. They shared that common vision amongst each other to create what you see behind me, and to deliver a powerful message,” Muri said.

“As you listen to our speakers this afternoon and you look at this piece of art behind me, think about the collective greatness that it took to make this happen today because we did not do this alone. It was done with a variety of organizations and individuals coming together to make sure good things happen for our children,” Muri added.

Jason Berridge, president and CEO of Complex Community Federal Credit Union, said the credit union has partnered with ECISD for more than 13 years to develop young people who are financially capable.

“The art work includes lessons like budget, credit, interviewing, entrepreneurship. And five years ago, the credit union came up with the idea to develop a special program for the AVID … seniors. We call it the senior experience. Each year, we work to develop a theme each year is a different theme for the different groups. And the students take on a path of discovery. Now the pandemic definitely did present challenges to the presentation. But the students were up to the challenge. They went on a journey with us to challenge them, to discover what they can do to live their lives and how they can pay it forward,” Berridge said.

“Paying it forward is vital. It’s a vital concept for our kids to learn and understand. They learned that every single thing they do matters not only for today, but for generations to come. They also learn that being intentional changes the world around them. …,” he added.

“… Each tile represents one or more students and their commitment to make a change in the world. This year was especially exciting because we widened our net to include more from ECISD. Not only did the AVID seniors (participate), but we also had the CTE team. They designed (it) from the beginning to the final execution and the CTE team also helped bring our vision to life right here,” Berridge added.

Amy Anderson, district director of the AVID program, said the senior experiences impact students’ lives far beyond the present moment.

“As we began to design this current experience that you see behind us, the beautiful product of the class of 2021, excitement grew because we were aligning our work and our efforts through AVID, CTE Complex Community and beyond that,” Anderson said.
Lead welding instructor Nat Armendarez presented plaques to Fernando Gonzalez, Carlos Moreno, both seniors at Odessa High School, and Complex Community FCU and Standard Structures Inc. Company representatives could not attend.

Esmeralda Carreon Llanez, a 2021 Permian High School graduate who is now in culinary arts at Odessa College, said this was the first time she had seen the sculpture. Carreon Llanez said it shows how much hard work went into the project.

She added that the pandemic year changed her.

“It made me realize that I’m on my own time. I can’t really waste any of it. You never know when life is going to be cut. You just always have to take advantage of it …,” Carreon Llanez said.

Moreno and Gonzalez said they were gratified by the final product.

“I think it came out amazing,” Gonzalez said.

Muri said the sculpture is the “voice of our children.”

He added that although last year was difficult because of COVID, the students’ had their mind on doing for others.

“… It’s this is from the class 2021 and those kids are gone; they’ve graduated … whether they’re living in our community or other places, but their voice will continue for years and years to come. … Perhaps someday their children could come and see this, or even other students that are a part of the system. Community members can come by and understand the voice of the class of 2021. What was on their mind, what were they thinking and feeling, so I’m excited about it. And then to the pay it forward concept, that’s what this was all about. …,” Muri said.