If you were an art student at Union High School beginning back in 1999 and continuing on, then you know about the school’s mural projects.
Each year, art department students work on a mural project that will be housed inside the school for future generations of students to enjoy.
“It is a good collaborative project for the students,” admits Theresa Elias, who came up with the idea back in 1999. “We thought it would be something that the students could enjoy doing, and it has worked really well. We have been doing them since 1999.”
Some of the works of art made by the students feature concepts of music, study and leisure. They were collaborations from each department and had been housed in the old Union High School, which is now Union Middle. Today, they have officially been moved to the new high school, much to the delight of the recent open house guests who got to see all of them on full display.
“The murals make the school our own,” noted assistant principal Julie Hunter. “When these were all added to the school, it shows off our Spartan pride.
Principal Ed Holmes agrees. “It gives us our special spin over here in Spartan land,” he said. “It shows how much individual talent that we have had coming through here. I think these murals give the students a great showcase … it is very special.”
Last year, the students completed three murals. The cost for all three was approximately $1,000. The project is paid through grants and some out-of-pocket funding.
“I have applied for grants from Bright Ideas and Friends of Education,” noted Elias, “but we have been really lucky that we have had such wonderful support.”
Some of that support came in the form of Tony Rackley, owner of Tony’s Cabinets in Clinton, who volunteered his framing expertise.
“I will tell you, he is a great supporter of our school district,” Elias said of Rackley. “It says a lot of him and how much he cares.”
Rackley’s latest framing work came on a massive American flag that was flown over the United States Embassy in Baghdad, donated by former Union graduate Mark Robinson.
“They both are Spartan men,” notes Holmes of Robinson and Rackley. “For them to takes their time to show their support and donate their efforts, it really makes you feel good. That is what we want to instill in our students. No matter where they go or what they do, they are still Spartans and they need to feel part of Union High.”
The same could be said for the murals. When former students returned to the school for open house, they saw their work on full display.
“It is great to see their faces and the smiles when they see them on the wall; it is pretty great,” said Elias. “They will pick out what they worked on and say, ‘hey, I did that.’ It makes you feel good.”
“They take ownership in it,” added Hunter. “It means a lot for them and a lot for us.”
“When they first begin to work on them, they can’t really see the big picture,” adds Elias. “But when they get into more, they begin to see the bigger picture and they really get into it.”
In her 18 years of teaching, Elias said her students have not changed all that much. “They are teenagers,” she says with a laugh. “They don’t change much, except maybe their hair styles.”
All joking aside, Elias is serious about her work, her students and the support she has received with the mural projects.
“You have teachers and administrators who are up front about their support of the arts in our school,” she said. “I can’t tell you how appreciative that makes me.”
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.