Green Bank Elementary-Middle School students in the advanced art class have traded in drawing paper and canvasses for walls as they decorate the school with colorful murals. Here, with the first finished mural are, from left: Matteus Stitzinger, Hunter Curran, Sienna Bircher, Jennalee Meck, Alexa Taylor, Caleb McCarty, Kira Riggsby, Jenelle Cassell, Kira Bircher, Josie McCarty and Isabella Perrera. Not pictured: Frankie Tawney and Andrea Payton. S. Stewart photo
Green Bank Elementary-Middle School students in the advanced art class have traded in drawing paper and canvasses for walls as they decorate the school with colorful murals. Here, with the first finished mural are, from left: Matteus Stitzinger, Hunter Curran, Sienna Bircher, Jennalee Meck, Alexa Taylor, Caleb McCarty, Kira Riggsby, Jenelle Cassell, Kira Bircher, Josie McCarty and Isabella Perrera. Not pictured: Frankie Tawney and Andrea Payton. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer
 
Green Bank Elementary-Middle School art teacher Alison Flegel likes it when the students paint on the walls. When it’s part of a project, that is.

This year, the students in her middle school advanced art class designed murals for the school’s hallways.

“I did a mural presentation at the beginning of the lesson,” Flegel said. “We talked about how murals can lift spirits in a place and bring communities together. We looked at the ones in Charleston and the ones Molly [Must] did.”

Drawing inspiration from the mural study, students drew their own and the students voted on which ones were to be used in the school.

The murals depict scenes from the county, including the Green Bank Telescope and Cass Scenic Railroad, as well as the school’s mascot, an Eagle. The elementary school wing will have a mural with children’s book characters. A wall near the library will depict Green Bank High School, and the cafeteria has a healthy eating mini-mural.

Classrooms are also getting their own little murals. Each door will have class specific designs. The art room will be decorated with art supplies, the math door will be surrounded by the numbers of Pi and calculators.

For Flegel, the project has been a great way for her students to learn how to work together and draw ideas off of one another. 

“The challenge with this has been painting on the larger scale, working as a team, but also just the cinderblock – painting and trying to make a straight line when there’s all these bumps and ridges,” she said. “It took a while to get us into doing other people’s art and listening to another eighth grader telling you want to do, just getting into that rhythm of leadership and teamwork.

“Now, we’re just a whole family,” she added. 

The class has also had help from local artists.

“Kristen LeCroy, from Parks and Rec, came to be our guest artist,” Flegel said. “She got us started. She came back last week and checked our progress and was just blown away by how the kids were working. She’s been a really good asset for us. She’s an artist in the community, and so, for her, to come in and tell the kids, ‘you’re doing a great job,’ means so much more to them than me, because they hear it from me all the time. It was really good to use artists in the community to benefit our school.”

The students will spend the rest of the semester finishing the murals. The artists creating the murals are: Sienna Bircher, Jennalee Meck, Alexa Taylor, Kira Riggsby, Jenelle Cassell, Kira Bircher, Josie McCarty, Matteus Stitzinger, Hunter Curran, Caleb McCarty, Isabella Perrera, Frankie Tawney and Andrea Payton.