If Robert Frost had been a high school student in St. Albert, he would have written a poem about the hallway less travelled. It would be unspectacular, a mere vessel for students on the west side of the building with no scenic diversions.
That all changed on Wednesday evening during Bellerose’s Celebration of the Arts event as staff and students unveiled a grand mural to provide that scenery. The artwork features a landscape image that seems to be taken from a path that diverges into two, apparent symbolism for the youth about to encounter the major fork in the road when they graduate. There are several large sections missing, each in the shape of corresponding puzzle pieces laying about the edges of the main picture, with some student-written verse marking the final embellishment.
The unveiling occurred on one of the school’s busiest days of the year that, in addition to the celebration, also saw the kickoff to its seventh annual 48-hour Bike-a-Thon fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. It was also the evening of the open house event for prospective students and their parents.
Teacher Karen May Healey sees more to the mural than just a pretty picture. Her classroom resides down the corridor that she calls ‘The West Wing.’
“My complaint initially was that it’s a really boring hallway and I have to look at that white wall every day,” she said, remembering what she used to think. “Something really cool could happen there. It started with me saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if … ?’ and Judy (Smallwood, art teacher) goes, ‘I could do that.’”
Harnessing the vast artistic well of teenaged creativity, this project also marks the start of a kind of renaissance at the school with some fantastic ideas like an indoor Art Walk and some early stars already proving that we can be sure to hear more of them in the coming years.
Coun. Carol Watamaniuk, a long-time proponent of culture and development of arts programs for the young, spoke of how momentous it is to see young people contributing to a collaboration of this size with the end result being something unique and symbolic being created out of a bare wall.
Time will soon tell how many more of these ‘fresh canvases’ will become masterpieces at Bellerose.