News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Middle school mural embraces community

Sisters Middle School Principal Tim Roth believes that “when you walk into a building, the walls speak to you about what the people who work there (staff and students) believe and stand for.”

Upon entering the middle school commons, the message is simple, yet impactful. There, 20-feet up on the wall, to the right of the stage, is a 10-foot-high by 28-foot-long painted canvas mural emblazoned with the words, “You are loved.”

This summer, middle school art teacher Judy Fuentes worked with a group of approximately 20 middle school students for five afternoons (about 18 hours) to create this message. They designed and created it, working cooperatively at every phase of the project.

“I am impressed with how the students worked together to get it done. I was amazed with their performance,” said Fuentes.

She relied on some of the incoming eighth graders to provide the leadership on the project, including Brooke Duey, Olive Morris, Cash Jordan, and Serafina Smith. Fuentes worked with them the week before to plan and make preliminary sketches of the mural.

The project was part of an art camp made possible free-of-charge with funding from the state to encourage summer programs to get students back in the schools. Fuentes led a clay camp every morning and then, after lunch, students worked on the mural.

The size, colors, and message of the mural certainly accomplish what Principal Roth was after when he shared his idea with Fuentes. Roth had earlier been working with Lindy Weddel, former Sisters High School counselor, on ways to counter all the negativity bombarding students on a daily basis.

“I wanted to try and create an atmosphere where kids, and anyone else, walking into school feel welcomed and loved,” Roth explained. “I think the mural has totally changed the way that room feels. People are suggesting we create another one with a positive message to go on the wall on the other side of the stage.”

Fuentes and Roth both expressed their great satisfaction with the project.

“The kids had a huge voice in the content of the mural,” said Roth. “It has surpassed anything I ever envisioned, 10 times what I had expected.”

Fuentes is hopeful the mural will act as a prompt for the students to talk about its message.

“I hope they talk about it. Art is always a prompt, whether one is participating in its creation or viewing it,” she said.

The manner in which the mural was created is remarkable in itself, with 20 middle schoolers working in a communal, supportive fashion. The background blocks of the quilt-like mural were drawn on and then painted in a variety of hues of purple, turquoise, green, and blue. Then the lettering was drawn on over the top of the color blocks. Students then decorated the color blocks with hand-drawn images, stencils, and woodblocks, layering paint on top of the original color blocks. Finally, the large script was painted in shades of yellow and orange. The middle of the “O” in “love” is the shape of a heart and the “A” in “are” is a dynamic yellow star.

The huge banner was carefully hung by school employees Jared, Kevin, T.J., John, and Ryan by climbing up on tall extension ladders. Parent Colleen Pollard assisted as needed and took many photos. Molly Pearring brought snacks for the painters. The students who participated in the project include: Abrianna, Olive, Cash, Serafina, Brooke, Alex, Addison, Ayla, Joseph, Reagan, Amaya, Morgan, Bailey, Dessa, Mia, Evie, Mary, Lola, Addison, Daniel, Brecken, Keegan, Isabel, Tyler, Jackson, Juliette, and Josta.


Reader Comments(0)