End of the year brings new mural to room 327

Sonya Francis

Starting a masterpiece: Junior Paige Selman shows her sketched idea for the mural in room 331 to junior Larry Green. The plan is to have a huge tree covering the back wall. Green is excited to participate later this month. Photo by Muhammad Al-Rawi

With the end of the year closing in, most students are slowing down. Their batteries aren’t fully charged, and the only thing that occupies their minds is the countdown toward summer.

But junior Paige Selman does not fit this case; instead, she has a new art project which she hopes to finish by the end of the year. As an Advanced Placement art student, Selman is no stranger to paint, so when the teachers in charge of the resource lab approached art teacher Sharyn Hyatt-Wade about the possibility of a school mural, Selman jumped at the chance.

“I thought, ‘what reflective teachers, to know that the visual arts can create a dynamic learning environment,’” Hyatt-Wade said.

When Selman started experimenting with styles, she said she taught herself backwards. Watching her mother oil paint, she started with oils and eventually learned how to draw.

“Everyone gets something different out of art, and it’s whatever that person needs it to be for them to see it. You can’t avoid art. And since you can’t avoid it you can’t avoid people having reactions,” Selman said. “It just does something inside you, whether it’s relaxing or calming; everyone will have a reaction which is part of what makes art so cool. Art is a story with no words; you can just interpret it however you want.”

Mary Grupe, a resource lab teacher, will be the dominant person working with Selman on the project; in fact, a quote from Aristotle sparked Grupe’s idea for the project — “the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” So what better to serve such a quote than a beautiful tree of growth and strength? Eventually, when the students graduate, they will put their hands on the tree and add the “fruit” that the tree produces each year, causing it to grow and nurture the drive towards a good education, Selman said.

“The students that access the resource room often have a love/hate relationship with school, their education, with the job of ‘doing’ school,” Grupe said. “Aristotle is calling each of us to not succumb to the tough, bitter parts of learning, but to look to the future, to opportunities that are coming their way as a result of their struggles.”

This is the message of hope, and it demands a sense of determination the Resource Room staff tries to instill in each of our students, she said.

Selman’s mural will be a part of RBHS for years. In fact, by the time the class of 2013 graduates there will be three in the resource labs.

“It’s weird to think about leaving something behind. It doesn’t even matter if they don’t know it was me. That’s not the point of it at all,” Selman said. “I like to have my art hanging up and walk by when people are talking and not let them know that I did anything with it, but I like to hear what they say and learn what they are getting out of it.”

Grupe said the overall goal is that the students will find drive. Grupe and Selman plan on using the creative and positive energies that come from painting to motivate students to bond with others and to teach them how to plan effective long-term projects.

They need “respect, respect for themselves, their peers, their school, their futures. For with respect comes progress,” Grupe said. “Teaching students to gain and give respect is not easy, but doing things like this, providing a little extra attention and demonstrating how others believe in the worth of our students, is a great place to start.”

By Sonya Francis