Student-painted murals to adorn St. John Community School

Submitted photo.

It’s not uncommon to see a student’s artwork hanging from the fridge, but it’s not every day you see it hanging from the front of a school.

But for Grade 4 and 7 students at St. John Community School, a mural they’ve painted will soon be on display for everyone to see.

The students are putting the finishing touches on a mural that will go up on the school’s overhang. The 24-foot-long mural, which is themed to an overall element of each grade’s curriculum, includes small circles designed and painted by each of the 90 or so students involved in the project.

“The mural is going up on the side of the school so that the whole community can see it,” said teacher Nicole Charlebois-Rinas.

“I taught at St. Mary, and the kids usually get excited about having their piece up somewhere. They will be able to show their friends and families their artwork, so I thought it might generate some excitement.”

The Grade 4 students painted circles based on Saskatchewan, while the Grade 7s pained their favourite places. Beyond that, though, the subject matter was pretty open.

“The Grade 4s painted lots of camping,” Charlebois-Rinas said.

“That’s a popular thing to do in Saskatchewan. Going to the lake, playgrounds, lots of houses and animals as well. There were lots of associations with animals.”

The seventh-grade students’ circles were a little more varied.

Submitted photo.

“We have a few space-themed ones with aliens, a few fictional places such as a Matrix circle and one that has Fortnite. There are a lot of sports. For a lot of them, that’s their favourite place to be, on a sports field.”

Originally, Charlebois-Rinas said, the mural was going to be hung inside the school, but the logistics proved challenging. She started looking into an external mural, but quickly realized she would need a little bit of extra funding. She got that help from the Prince Albert Council for the Arts*, as well as from the Operation Red Nose money given to the school by the Prince Albert Lions Club.

Those contributions were used to buy the board the mural is painted on as well as high-quality exterior paint used to prevent the murals from fading.

“I have a very generous and understanding principal who thought the idea was great,” Charlebois-Rinas said. It was the school’s principal that okayed the use of some of the Operation Red Nose funding.

“A big thanks to them because you can’t do these sorts of things without some extra money, and there’s not a lot of extra around schools these days,” she said.

While Charlebois-Rinas doesn’t know exactly where on the overhand the mural will go, she’s optimistic enough space will be left for the project to continue next year.

“I hope (the students) are excited about it,” she said.

“I know some can’t wait to see it go up. Hopefully, it will generate a little bit of pride.”

The overhang was chosen as it’s more difficult for people to access. That should, hopefully, prevent vandals from hitting the murals with graffiti.

“Some students really put a lot of time and effort into their idea as well as their painting,” she said.

“It will be nice that it gets to be respected and up there for a few years so everyone can enjoy it.”

** This is a corrected story. The story originally said that funding was from the Prince Albert Arts Board instead of from the Council for the Arts. The correct information was included in the print version of the story.