Norway art students paint mural in hospital hallway

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NORWAY — Art students from Guy E. Rowe Elementary School recently completed painting a mural of a starry sky in a hallway at Stephens Memorial Hospital.

Eleven students from fourth and fifth grades were selected for the project and began Jan. 6. Each Monday and Wednesday after school, art teacher Alisa Blundon walked to the hospital with them to work on the mural in a hallway connecting the Ripley Building to the hospital.

Blundon said each year she has two art classes, one of which focuses on community projects. This year, she wanted to create artwork at the hospital.

“The reason why I picked Stephens is because a lot of the students have been there and because it is close to the school,” she said.

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The students jointly composed a letter to hospital to tell them what they hoped to create.

“We would like to create a place in the hospital that your visitors can go for a calming moment,” they wrote.

The letter also stated the mural would feature a large shooting star to represent happiness, faith, hope and light in dark times that patients or thier family members may face.

“In addition, we intend to include encouraging quotes along the walls leading up to the mural. These are to inspire optimism and cheer,” the letter said.

Their idea was approved.

“These students are working hard doing this as a community project,” wrote Abigail Graiver, director of creative services at the hospital.

Because there was not enough space for Blundon to take a lot of students, she asked students who wished to participate to write her a letter saying why they should be chosen.

Many of the students wrote that they had some personal connection to the hospital, either having been born there or having had family members born there.

To others, it was because art meant a lot to them and they wanted to be involved in the community project.

Fourth-grader Emily Cummings wrote Blundon, “When I was nine, I was in a bad car accident with my grandparents and little brother, Ben. We were lucky that everyone in the car was okay! We were all really stressed out and I realize now that it would have been really helpful if we’d had something pretty to look at.”

Fifth-grader Marita Bonville wrote, “I want to join this part of art club because Stephens Memorial Hospital saved my brother’s life. His appendix burst before we even got there. Me and my family are lucky he lived. I feel like I should pay them back for saving my brother … I will paint the mural with respect and kindness, for my brother and all the people who are sick and hurt.”

Before the young artists began painting, they shared with Blundon their ideas on what the mural should be about. They settled on a starry sky and spent hours working on it, sometimes working until 9 p.m.

The mural was finished Jan. 29. It depicts starry sky with encouraging and optimistic sayings written along the hallway.

When asked to identify their favorite part of the project, students’ answers ranged from sketching the designs to painting the shooting star. What they all agreed on was it made them feel good to help other people feel happy and at peace.

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