Central mural teaches students as they paint
Central School art teacher Jaime Berngard demonstrates painting technique on the massive mural at the school on Thursday, October 25, 2012. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:13AM
WILMETTE — Students, teachers and visitors to Wilmette’s Central Elementary School can soon enjoy a dynamically colorful, first floor hallway mural created by first-, second-, third- and fourth-grade students under the direction of art teacher Jaime Berngard.
The mural grew out of previous art history extra-curricular enrichment programs funded and run by Central’s PTA. After Central incorporated art history into regular classes, the time was right for a change in the enrichment program’s focus, she said.
This year’s effort has proceeded on two fronts. Classes have planned and painted special temporary butcher paper murals, even as they have worked on the hall painting, which Berngard designed.
Both the temporary and permanent paintings incorporate subjects each grade will study this year. For instance, students learning about Illinois can see that reflected in the bright red cardinal perched near a picture of the state in the hallway, and they can paint flowers around a little girl reading the well-beloved story, “The Giving Tree.”
The hall mural also interweaves a sense of humor into environmental awareness, with a bicyclist’s wheels transformed into two sides of the globe, so that Central School’s sister school in Tanzania is part of the project.
“We decided on some of the imagery with the PTA and (Central Principal Rebecca Littmann) for the hall, but the classes decided on each of the individual murals,” Berngard said.
Third grader Katie Holmberg said last week she liked the hall mural’s flowers, several of which she helped paint. Classmate Tommy Albrighton was another flower fan, while Ronan O’Neill was proud of painting the cardinal’s branch.
Each student was also intent on completing their classroom mural, which boasted Wilmette landmarks; student Emily Tinsley was finishing work on her favorite ice cream parlor.
While the third graders worked, parent and artist Christina Bode added details to the hall painting and praised Berngard’s ability to create a space on the mural for each grade level.
After almost two weeks of dedicated student artistry, both the hall and classroom murals are almost complete. The latter will be displayed so that parents can see them during conferences.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Berngard said of the outcome. “Oh, my gosh, the kids are what get me through, because they’ve been on their best behavior. You can tell how proud and excited they are.”
Littmann last week praised the project, saying it not only lets students apply the lessons educators hope to introduce in the classroom, but it has brought parents and staff together as well.