Riverside Elementary School
Fourth-graders create interactive mural
There's more to the new mural at Riverside Elementary School than meets the eye.
The Make a Difference interactive mural, created by fourth-graders, carries messages for students at the Dublin elementary school and has proved to be very popular.
"The students put special messages in the mural," art teacher Drew Jones said. "We have to refill it every day. It's popular, which is good."
In fact, one student waiting for a ride after school Dec. 19 pulled a message out of the mural bearing the suggestion "Be yourself," and showed it to Jones.
That's exactly what Jones was aiming for when work on the mural started in October.
"We had an anti-bullying initiative we talked about at the beginning of the year," he said. "I did research and found out October is Anti-Bullying Month."
After more research and discussions with other teachers, Jones came up with an idea for the mural. "I didn't want to focus on bullying, but being positive," he said.
For the mural, Jones gave students large panels of cardboard, paper towel tubes and other supplies.
"I like doing recycled and repurposed art," he said.
Students created texture on the cardboard panels by removing layers and adding others before attaching paper towel tubes that would soon carry rolled up pieces of paper with positive messages for students.
Amid the paint, glue and art supplies, Jones also discussed bullying with his students.
"That was the most significant and rewarding experience I've had as a teacher -- talking about bullying," he said.
"We talked about personal experience and what they could do. They were very vulnerable and it was a sweet moment."
The mural, painted the national color for bullying prevention, went up in November. Jones said he has students help make more messages to fill the tubes.
"There are some really profound encouragements I was really shocked to see," he said.
This isn't the first time Jones has tackled bullying in his art classes. In past years, students made small products to sell at an art fair. Proceeds went to a charity.
"They were things made to make a difference for other people," he said. "(The mural) was made to make a difference here."
Depending on wear and tear, Jones hopes to keep the mural up for the rest of the school year. Another, sturdier mural could also be constructed to carry the same messages.
"I've talked to kids who took a message out and they say, 'It's awesome. It says I'm special,'" Jones said. "I hope it has a meaningful impact on their lives."