Mid Coast School Notebook: April 15

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Harriet Beecher Stowe fifth-graders go exploring

Almost 200 students at Harriet Beecher Stowe school have set their imaginations free and created a mural “that is educational, collaborative, and absolutely stunning,” said Kristi Hatrick of Arts are Elementary.

Under the guidance of Lincolnville muralist Randy Fein and in conjunction with Arts are Elementary, every fifth-grade student –186 in all – each created a 6-inch by 6-inch tile celebrating outer space. The project was tied to the fifth-grade science curriculum unit on astronomy, and each tile included an arc that created a quarter circle, which students painted to resemble the celestial orb of their choosing. They were then encouraged to explore human-made objects in space, such as the International Space Station or Mars Rover, and could include renderings of them on their tile.

Each individual work of art has been incorporated into a 15-foot by 4-foot mural, with four quarter circles coming together to form planets, moons, stars, or nebulae. The mural was permanently installed in the hallway between the dining hall and the gymnasium at HBS after an unveiling during the fifth-grade Science Discovery Night, held April 8.

The mural was dedicated to the memory of Melissa Valliere, the beloved mother of an HBS fifth-grader who was a substitute teacher at the school.

Fein, a sculptor, painter, potter and Maine Arts Commission-designated Teaching Artist, has traveled all over New England over the last 30 years to create hundreds of clay and painted murals in schools. She has taught at numerous colleges and art centers in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont, and her commissioned pieces hang in such places as Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Arts Are Elementary is a 35 year-old Brunswick nonprofit that provides free artist residencies to every kindergarten through fifth-grade student in town. Residencies are conducted at Coffin Elementary, Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary, and St. John’s Catholic School by professional visual artists, writers and performing artists.  The subject matter of Arts Are Elementary residencies tie directly to the Brunswick School Department curriculum.

Teaching Artist Randy Fein with the fully assembled mural featuring artwork by all 186 fifth-grade students at Harriet Beecher Stowe school and their teachers.

From left, Lindsay Papa of Topsham, Anita Woofenden of Bowdoinham, Orion Sargent of Topsham, Mark Abreu of Harpswell and Joe Beale of Topsham were chosen to participate in Boys and Girls State this summer by the Mt. Ararat Social Studies Department. The students were selected based on their leadership skills and interest in government. The program is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Maine.

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