For the last couple of months, students of Errington Elementary have been putting their best faces forward to make their playground a sight for sore eyes.
Encouraged by the example of other Richmond schools, staff decided to hand their 225 students the challenge of creating fence art based on characters from books written and illustrated by Todd Parr. With the help of different traces, every student designed and painted his or her own face in Parr-style.
"I had seen fence art at other schools, so I brought along the idea when I came here as a new principal in October (2011)," said Mike Murray.
Staff embraced the concept; the project was launched the following March and finalized over the winter break.
Eager to ensure their fence art would stand out, the choice for Parr's work was "a no-brainer" since his illustrations are bright, colourful and simplistic. "We wanted something simple enough for kids of all ages to complete," explained Murray.
As for the author himself, he was pleasantly surprised by the school's initiative.
"He thanked us for thinking of him. He was honoured and couldn't wait to see it," Murray proudly stated.
What makes the fence art even more valuable is its link with literacy, one of the basic school goals.
"This way we bring literacy to life. The kids look at the books and base their art on them; it's nice to be able to make that connection for the children," said Murray.
The principal added students were very excited to participate in the project and to finally see their own work revealed. In addition, the process has been a great way to perk up the once dreary playground.
The fence art project would not have been possible without the support of Lowes, who generously donated wood and paint, and local Steveston resident Bill Widdess. The retired firefighter and artist volunteered his spare time to cut out all the different shapes.
As the playground has been turned into a nice and enjoyable place for both students and the community at large, the school has its eye on the next step: raising funds to replace the ageing playground structure. A campaign will be developed and launched within the next six months.