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Norwin's Stewartsville Elementary students make lasting impression

| Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, 1:12 p.m.
Marina Panaia, art teacher at Stewartsville Elementary School in North Huntingdon, shows her fourth-grade students how to paint a section of a Norwin Knight mural in a hallway.

A group of fourth-graders at Norwin's Stewartsville Elementary School in North Huntingdon have made a lasting impression on the school by painting a large wall mural in the district's colors as the backdrop for a Norwin Knight cutout.

Marina Panaia, an art teacher who splits her time between the Stewartsville and Sunset Valley elementary schools, said 45 of her students painted about 32 geometric shapes on an 8-foot-by-38-foot section of the hallway wall that features a plastic foam Norwin Knight holding a shield and flag with these words: honesty, respect, caring, responsibility, courage, fairness and perseverance.

“The staff and student body have been enjoying seeing the mural in the hall every day. The bright colors bring a little more life to the school,” Panaia said.

Panaia said she plans to cover the mural with one or two coats of clear lacquer to protect it from students who might be tempted to touch it once it is finished. The Norwin Knight then will be placed back on the wall.

The students started painting the shapes in different colors — white, grey, yellow-gold, light blue, dark blue and black — on Nov. 3. Working twice a week, they finished the painting just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Panaia said she did some “touch-up” painting after the students were finished.

“This is the first time painting something so big. It was fun,” Panaia said.

Panaia said she decided in September to propose the student painting project, which won the approval of the building principal, April Preisach, Superintendent William H. Kerr Jr. and the Norwin School Board.

She prepared for the painting by sketching geometric shapes on the white wall, then blocking off the shapes so that students would not accidentally spread paint on an adjoining shape. Using six gallons of paint, they covered the shapes with two coats, Panaia said.

One of the student painters, Isabella Gricar, said she liked painting the mural.

The project cost the school less than $75, thanks to donations of the rollers, brushes and paint trays by the Busy Beaver store in the Norwin Hills Shopping Center and the donation of paint by the PPG Paints store on Route 30, Panaia said.

Rather than listing all of the names of the student painters on the mural, the youngsters will be recognized with a plaque, Panaia said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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