By Steve Hubrecht
A vibrant and colorful mural that would make even old Sam McGee’s head spin to warm, will soon adorn JA Laird Elementary School, where it will double as an eye-catching work of art and a wall-ball surface built from purpose.
The mural is the work of JA Laird’s Grade 7 Legacy Project group, Deputy Principal Crystal Woodworth said. The group has met weekly throughout the year to reflect on what this year’s Grade 7 class can leave as a legacy for the young and future students of the school that they can enjoy in the years to come. .
After a few sessions, the group’s students – Tyson Clark, Leighton Armstrong-Michel, Gabe Nielsen and Anisha Waite – realized that creating a new wallball surface would be the perfect legacy. Wallball is a classic schoolyard game involving a ball, a wall to bounce on, and a lot of fun, but unfortunately students cannot use most of the side surfaces of Laird’s buildings as the repeated bounces ball could potentially damage the building envelope.
“Then they thought ‘if we want to create a surface, we have to decorate it,” Woodworth said. After carefully considering many different decor designs, the group reached out to local artist Kelly Tomalty for help creating a mural. Tomalty met the students, gaining a clear idea of their vision for the mural.
The mural is made up of four panels (three of them are about seven and a half feet high by four feet wide, and one is seven and a half feet high by two feet wide) that will be installed on the hangar next to the Laird. Playground. Work on the final touches was completed just a few days ago and it was unveiled at the school earlier this week on Tuesday, June 22. The vibrant and colorful scene shows a host of animals common to the Columbia Valley, including a mom bear and cub, skunk, lynx, fox, eagle, deer and wolf – perched in the middle of a natural environment of trees, a lake and mountains, all under a swirling sky at sunset.
If at first glance at the mural, viewers’ thoughts immediately turn to Rob Service classics such as the cremation of Sam McGee or the filming of Dan McGrew, it’s no accident like the said Tomalty. the pioneer that she was aiming for something “fun and playful but not cartoonish” and did it in “a sort of Ted Harrison style”. Ted Harrison is the iconic Yukon artist who has illustrated the cremation of Sam McGee, the shooting of Dan McGrew and several other children’s books.
Tomalty took a month off (she and her husband are business owners) to devote to mural painting. She painted three and a half of the four panels, and the students themselves finished the flowers that fill the lower corner of the left panel. Indeed, if viewers look closely at the flowers, they will see that every 7th grade student has signed one.
“It’s a beautiful work of art. It is breathtaking. It will be a centerpiece in the school, ”said Woodworth. “It’s a landscape of how Legacy Project Group students see our valley and what matters to them. It is very colorful. There are animals, symbols and all kinds of really interesting details that the kids think should be included. It really turned out to be more spectacular than any of us had imagined.
Woodworth said the credit goes to the students of the Legacy Project Group, who worked hard to make the mural a reality, and Tomalty, who devoted much of his time to it.
“I feel humbled by what (Tomalty) has done. The kids are so excited and so proud to be a part of it, ”said Woodworth.
Tomalty, for her part, was grateful to the students. “It was a great opportunity. The last time a mural was done in Laird, I think, was when my own kids were in elementary and elementary school. Now one of my children is a teacher in Laird. So these opportunities don’t come up that often, and I’m honored to have been chosen, ”said Tomalty. “The students, from what I understand, really had fun with it. It was awesome.