School may be out until September, but one project carried out by the students of Lake Cowichan School will greet visitors to the town all summer long.
The new mural at the edge of school property along South Shore Road is a crowning achievement of LCS this past year, with benefits that extend well beyond the aesthetic according to principal Nicole Boucher.
“The biggest benefit for the kids was as a unifying project. Bringing our school community together,” she said. “This is the first time we’ve done a large-scale project that ties all the grades together.”
Boucher pointed out it’s not always easy to find activities that students from Grade 4 to Grade 12 can all participate in.
“You have to be creative in terms of thinking of ways to bring such an age-spread together. We can’t necessarily bring in a guest speaker that all of them are going to relate to,” she said.
The mural was the brain child of history teacher Sean Battye and artist-in-residence Eva Sniatycka.
Battye secured funding for the project in large part through ArtStarts in Schools, a not-for-profit organization that promotes art and creativity among young people in B.C.
The mural features images reflecting the heritage of the Cowichan Lake area, including the names and operation dates of the local lumber mills, the Lady of the Lady (formerly known as the Lumber Queen), the railroad, the changing forest industry, recreational activities and more.
Boucher said it wasn’t easy for the artist, the teacher and the students to come up with a way to represent something as wide-ranging as the town’s history on a single wall, but she’s pleased with the outcome and hopes the town is too.
The mural was researched and designed by a committee of students, with every student in the school playing some role in its actual painting.
Incorporating history, art and other subjects in a single project made for additional benefits, said Boucher.
“Any time you can do a project that encompasses learning in different disciplines [it] is very, very rich learning,” she said. “They’re learning about all of the aspects of the history and you tie that to art and you tie that into other subjects and it’s much richer learning because you’re relating it to a bunch of different disciplines at once.”
This was not the only mural created by LCS students this year, although it certainly is the most visible.
Another mural was painted at the back of the school on the building that houses Radio Cowichan.
“The radio station worked with our Grade 8 students and the art teacher,” said Boucher. “[They] designed the mural for the radio station, and it was their vision of Lake Cowichan. And they did that in one day and their medium was spray paint.”
Boucher said she would be open to future mural projects at the school.
“I think for our staff and students it’s a nice thing to see when we pull up to the building. There was only really positive aspects to the whole process.”