Clovers, butterflies and dragons have now found a home on Ann Street. Walking to Shamrock Gardens will be a little more fun for students, thanks to the school's recent Paint the Pavement project. The program encourages community building and public art as a way to transform roadway public space into neighborhood assets.
During the week of April 23, the city shut down the intersection of Ann and Cheryl streets to allow students and volunteers to paint a unique, 2,000 square foot piece of art.
Scott Gartlan, a member of the Country Club Heights Neighborhood Association and the parent of first-grader Lulu, said the idea for something like this began in the 1970s. "Delores Robinson, who used to live in the house I live in now, went to the city council in the 1970s to complain about the cross-traffic around this school and encourage safety for kids."
The neighborhood decided to get involved. "We didn't want a speed bump," said Gartland. "We wanted something creative and artistic." The association applied to the city for approval to paint the pavement. Then they received a grant from the city to cover the costs of supplies. A design was created and the painting could begin.
Fifth-grade students were chosen to do the painting. "It's a legacy project for them," said Gartlan. "They will all be going to middle school next year and this is something they can come and look at and know they contributed."
The design incorporates the school's colors and dragon mascot. A square was created for each student to work in. Art teacher Jamil Steele brought his students out every day to work on the project. "It's pretty exciting to be able to bring the kids outside of the classroom and show them how art works in the real world," he said. "This is a completely inclusive project that anyone can participate in."
Fifth-grader Sam Roary danced with excitement in his square while he waited for volunteers to pour his paint. "Art is a good way to bring out feelings," he said. "Mr. Steele taught us how to use colors to tell people how we are feeling. I am excited about this painting because I think that people will slow down and look at it. It's very good for our school."