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Connecting Our Communities

Spirit of community reflected in Park Manor mural of Nelson Mandela


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Park Manor Grade 7 students started the project when asked to create something inspiring. From left, Justin Taylor, Morgan Hanley, Seth Morrison, Nate Maier, Hailey Gore. [Will Sloan / The Observer}
Park Manor Grade 7 students started the project when asked to create something inspiring. From left, Justin Taylor, Morgan Hanley, Seth Morrison, Nate Maier, Hailey Gore. [Will Sloan / The Observer}
In our media-saturated landscape, inspiring images can be hard to find. This is what Sarah McEachern’s two Grade 7 language classes decided when they collaborated on a mural honouring the memory of Nelson Mandela.

The idea came from a media project in which students investigated print and video advertising to find out what it said about the world. “What we were learning is that most of the time, they’re trying to get people to buy buy buy, consume consume consume,” said McEachern. “There wasn’t anything to inspire.”

For their summative project, students were told to use and quote and draw a picture to create something inspiring. Of the 50 submissions, students from both classes were able to vote on a design that they wanted to turn into a larger painting. “There was a friendly competition among the children to create something that would inspire,” said McEachern.

In honour of the South African leader, who died on December 5, student Tyler Elg designed a globe surrounded by people of all races. “The faces are to represent all different cultures, and that we’re a community – not as only a school, but as a global community,” said McEachern.

With permission from the principal, the students began the long and collaborative process of creating the image. Each student had a chance to author one of the faces, with classes working together on the globe.

“We got our plan in action and began to sketch the image on our wall,” said student Seth Morrison. “After a long three months, we finished painting.”

“We had a bunch of help from different teachers; our librarian Ms. Grant, who gave us painting supplies; and from our janitor, Mr. Henderson, who helped us finish up,” said student Nate Maier.

In the end, the process was a learning experience, said McEachern.

“As a group of 50 children, they learned about teamwork and community and working together and not giving up.”

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