Colour now splashes the brick walls of Centretown’s Glashan Public School.
On Nov. 28, the school formally unveiled two murals that now hang on the Arlington Avenue side of its building.
The event, which was attended by students, parents, staff and dignitaries, including Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi, was a celebration of the school’s arts and music programs, with students performing musical interludes throughout the ceremony.
Thirty-six Glashan students were involved in creating the three-dimensional murals under the guidance of local artist Nicole Belanger.
“Today’s events speak to the strength of the Glahsan Community and our commitment to not only making our school a better place, but to making our streets a better place for community members,” said Glashan principal Jim Tayler.
The murals both depict two ”gators,” the mascot of the school. One features a green alligator with multi-coloured humps on its back and the inscription “Glashan innovates.” The other shows a grey gator with an array of trees on its back. The mural states, “Glashan leads.”
Digital versions of the wood-mounted murals were made, and these are now suspended along the front of the school.
“These are murals that represent the thinking of the students,” said Tayler, “whether it be creativity or innovation or diversity or community. These are messages coming from the students.”
The murals are part of an ongoing schoolyard greening and beautification project that began in September 2013. The Glashan School Council Green Team is leading the extensive transformation of the grounds to add green space to an expanse of pavement.
Kathi Elborn, a volunteer with the Green Team, said she agrees with Tayler that the installation of the murals, and the greening project in general, will have an impact beyond just the school.
“In the urban core there’s a real dearth of green space,” she said, “so anytime you can add more green space and beautify the exterior of the buildings it just benefits everyone who lives in close proximity, or travels by.”
Green Team chair Amanda Keller-Herzog said this is especially true since members of the community use the yard after school hours.
According to Keller-Herzog, Crime Prevention Ottawa contributed $6,000 to the creation of the murals, through its Paint It Up! program.
Capital Coun. David Chernushenko, who sits on the CPO’s board and attended the mural unveiling, said: “When we replace a blank surface with art, there’s a statement being made that we replaced vandalism with community.”
Elborn notes that the mural installation is just the start of what’s to come. She says once spring hits, the team expects the first full phase of the greening to begin, with completion expected by the end of June.
That part of the project will include the construction of an outdoor “classroom,” landscaping and tree-planting along Catherine Street, where several trees were recently lost to the ash-borer infestation.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “I think 2015 will be the year we see the results of things.”
However, Keller-Herzog added that while her team has raised a lot of money, there is still a funding gap.
As a result, Keller-Herzog says the team is leading a fair-trade chocolate fundraiser through their website, glashangreening.ca, during the holiday season. She also said they are accepting regular donations via the website, as well.
Tayler reiterated his central message that the greening project is significant to both the school and the neighbourhood.
“It’s about community building and kids being connected to their community,” he said.