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Harrison Park students create hallway to history

| Friday, April 29, 2011

Using a little paint and a lot of imagination, the fifth-grade students of Harrison Park Elementary in the Penn Trafford School District transformed a hallway into a work of art.

Using a time line of history, the 82 students created a wall mural on a 48-by-8-foot wall that leads out to the recess area.

"I had all the students sit down and make me a list of the 20 most important events or people in history," art teacher Brenda Christeleit said. "From those lists, we had a total of 114 possible subjects to create for the mural."

The subjects for the mural included people and events from Christopher Columbus until 9/11 and Abraham Lincoln to Susan B. Anthony.

Working in groups, each student had to research a topic or person and find a picture suitable for the mural.

"This taught us a lot about history," Mitchell Nedley said. "I had Neil Armstrong and I learned that he took his first step on the moon with his left foot and that he placed an American flag on the moon and it is still there."

The legacy mural will be part of the school's decor and the students like the fact that it will be like Armstrong's flag and still be there for years.

"I like the idea that I can come back here in a couple of years and look at it again," Nedley said.

"I thought that this was really interesting," Sarah Simpson said. "It makes me happy and proud that this will now be here."

The students were allowed three days of school time to work on the project and continued working on it in their art classes.

"This project provides an artistic and cross-curricular means for students to research, discover and appreciate important people and events from U.S. history," Christeleit said. "The repeated theme for this was art can teach us about history."

And the project helped to add a colorful spot to the school.

"We were talking about ways to spruce up the school and that is the hall (where the mural has been added) that all the students pass through to go to recess," Principal Jeff Swartz said. "I think the kids did an outstanding job."

In addition to the artwork and creativity the students showed, they are going to use the mural as a teaching tool for younger students.

"They are going to have a tour with the first-graders and explain their work and the history," Swartz said. "We will have a little field trip within the school."

The students are still working on the wall, which is slated to be finished the first week of May.

"The mural work is beyond my wildest dreams," Christeleit said. "They surpassed any of my expectations, but this is a really exceptional group of students. They did a wonderful job."

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