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Westmoreland

Yough students paint West Newton history on library's exterior walls

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, 7:42 p.m.

A group of 18 Yough High School art students are leaving a lasting legacy on the walls of the West Newton Public Library.

They’re painting two murals they designed that depict images of the town’s rich history and culture: from coal mining to canoeing to biking along one of the nation’s premier recreational trails.

“We wanted to display how the current culture of West Newton gives the community members of all ages value and opportunities to enjoy life and the scenic beauty of West Newton,” said Therese Berkey, the Yough High School art teacher who guided the efforts of the all-female team for the two murals.

A mural depicts a coal miner, a coal-laden car, a canoe on the Youghiogheny River and a bird’s-eye view of a bike rider — all emanating from the open pages of a book spread across the bottom of the scene.

“We wanted to show today’s history with the (Great Allegheny Passage) trail and canoeing, along with the coal miners,” said Peyton Buglar, who designed the mural with the coal scene with fellow senior Grace Comini.

“When your coming down (North) Water Street, it grabs your attention. We wanted vibrant colors … that pop,” said Delaney Gallaher, another senior who was helping to paint the 15-foot-by-15-foot mural on the right side of the building, closest to the downtown business district.

Junior Amanda Haman designed the mural on the other side of the building, which shows a young boy reading a West Newton history book, “Memories of an Old Town,” by Carl Lander, the town’s printer, and Florella Albig. It also has a middle-aged woman with teenagers riding their bikes and a senior citizen fishing in the 17-foot-by-15-foot scene.

“I like the challenge of it,” Haman said. “It’s different than drawing on a small surface.”

The initiative was done through the Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania Program, which is a Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful initiative designed to beautify towns and possibly spur economic development.

The West Newton project, dubbed “You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover,” was one of eight statewide and the only one in Westmoreland County selected for a $50 gift card for painting supplies. Paint for project was donated by Williams Hardware and Home Center, just outside of West Newton.

Berkey said she and the students brainstormed on the design since early in the school year.

“It was a collaborative effort,” Berkey said. “We were constantly helping each other.”

The students said they experimented with the colors as they painted, in some instances covering up their first attempt at painting one of the scenes.

Students were not intimidated by the large size of the mural space because they work on painting backdrops for high school stage productions, Gallaher said.

The students are painting the murals as the rest of the building’s exterior is being given a fresh coat of paint.

When they have finished the murals, which could be in another painting session, Berkey said the students will get to sign their artwork.

“We thought it would be exciting when we show our kids,” Gallaher said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

Yough junior McKayla Gesmond, 16, works on painting a mural on the library in West Newton on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Yough junior McKayla Gesmond, 16, works on painting a mural on the library in West Newton on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
Students from Yough High School work their brushes while painting a mural on the library in West Newton on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Students from Yough High School work their brushes while painting a mural on the library in West Newton on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
Yough sophomore Kyllie Roebuck, 15, works on painting a mural with her set design class on a wall of the library in West Newton on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Yough sophomore Kyllie Roebuck, 15, works on painting a mural with her set design class on a wall of the library in West Newton on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
Yough senior Peyton Buglar (left), outlines the letters for “West” as students in the set design class work on painting a mural on the library in West Newton on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Yough senior Peyton Buglar (left), outlines the letters for “West” as students in the set design class work on painting a mural on the library in West Newton on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
Yough senior Delaney Gallaher, 17, works her brush while painting a mural on the library in West Newton, on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Yough senior Delaney Gallaher, 17, works her brush while painting a mural on the library in West Newton, on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
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