It takes a school community

Two mural projects at Long River are almost ready to hang

Branford artist JoAnn Moran, right, leads Long River Middle School students Jesse Burns and Taran Myers in painting a mural for the school’s cafeteria Oct. 6. - LARAINE WESCHLER

PROSPECT – Tiny dots of pink, red, blue, green and yellow popped from two nearly-finished community murals at Long River Middle School on Tuesday.

Students, staff and parents are using this dotting technique, called pointillism, to create the works of art expected to be installed on one wall of the school’s cafeteria on Friday.

Assistant Principal Kristin Reichelt-Bernier said 580 sixth- through eighth-graders are participating in the project, plus 50 staff members and parents. Even Superintendent James C. Agostine has stopped by to chip in.

“The point of it is a real community effort,” Reichelt-Bernier said.

Led by visiting artist JoAnn Moran of Branford, the project originally called for one mural revolving around one quote, but staff and students wound up selecting two quotes that resonated with them, Reichelt-Bernier said.

They are Aesop’s: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,” and Gandhi’s: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The students were asked to draw on a piece of white paper what they visualized for each quote.

Transparencies were made of the drawings and an overhead projector was used to help facilitate drawing the pictures onto large white panels for the murals. Each mural has six panels.

“It’s all kid drawings and kid graphics,” Reichelt-Bernier said.

Long River Middle School students, from left, Shane Rosenberry, Matt Covello, Aria Benevedes, and Erin Mascoli use q-tips to paint a mural last week. - LARAINE WESCHLER

Using the dot technique allows everyone to participate, as it takes a longer time to paint, she said.

Pictures of hands, hearts, a rainbow, two smiling turtles saying “thank you” and more help illustrate Aesop’s kindness quote. And images of two large hands cupping a world, words of “wish” and “peace” and two young adults holding up a sign that reads “No War” and other drawings depict Gandhi’s message.

Eighth-grader Donovan White, 14, said the murals are a great idea, and believes the two quotes selected represent what they are as a school.

Bianca Poehailos, 13, also an eighth-grader, said Gandhi’s quote is her favorite.

Long River Middle School student McKayla DeBrizzi, teacher Cathy Barone, and students Lisa Thrasher and Heather Bernier work on the mural Oct. 6. - LARAINE WESCHLER

“If we all work together, we can change anything,” Bianca said.

Around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, a few staff and students diligently applied dots of green, blue and other vivid hues to the large plastic panels. One measures 9 feet high and about 20 feet wide; the other, 9 feet high and about 24 feet wide, Moran said.

Moran has accomplished about 200 community projects in the state, and has worked in Utah, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida as well, she said. She mostly works on these projects with schools, she said.

Erica Liberatore, an art teacher who was painting on a panel Tuesday, said, “I think it’s a great collaborative project.”