A School Painting Project

January 13, 1995|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

It's hardly spring yet, but Mount Airy Elementary School is awash in wildflowers, blue skies and singing birds.

The idyllic scene isn't real, but it conveys the idea.

As part of a project to brighten the school, the drab school walls have been transformed into cheerful scenes from a small town -- not unlike Mount Airy.

"We decided that the walls were so plain we needed to make it more child-centered," said Principal Bo Ann Bohman.

"We work hard to make the classrooms cheerful and bright for the children, and the hallways should be the same," she said.

The idea of sprucing up the light-yellow school walls first came up at Mount Airy PTA discussions. Karen Sheridan, a parent, suggested painting community scenes on the walls.

"We like to think of the school as a learning community that works and gets along well together," Ms. Bohman said. "Plus, Mount Airy is such a wonderful supportive community that it's nice to relate it to the town."

Robin Edwards, a parent and volunteer, has spent the past three months painting a park scene on the walls in the school lobby.

The centerpiece is a gazebo filled with children playing musical instruments for a dancing man with a white beard. Cats, birds, ducks and a chipmunk complete the picture.

"It's the gazebo I'd like to have in my back yard," Ms. Edwards said.

"I can't get my wisteria to bloom, so I put one in here."

The park scene also includes some personal touches by the artist.

For example, the girl playing the flute is Ms. Edwards' 9-year-old daughter, Jessica, and her three cats are crouched beneath the gazebo.

Although she sells painted T-shirts and makes crafts, Ms. Edwards had never worked on any major painting project before. In the beginning she was somewhat overwhelmed by the task.

"I thought it would be all drawn, and I'd just have to fill in with paints," she said. "But I came in here and saw my blank walls."

As she works, Ms. Edwards receives advice and comments from the students walking the halls.

"I hear 'awesome' a lot; they really seem to like seeing it evolve," she said. "In the beginning I had a couple kids tell me that I was going to get in trouble for drawing on the wall."

Pat Aaron, an art teacher at the school for 21 years, has also worked on the project. He painted the Mount Airy Town Hall on the walls around the school office.

Mr. Aaron said the goal for this year is to finish painting the lobby and the cafeteria, which may be done in a Chesapeake Bay theme. If possible, he'd like to see the walls of the entire school painted with community scenes, including Mount Airy's Main Street.

Ms. Edwards is ready.

"I'd be glad to paint all year," she said.

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