Over the last few weeks, curious passersby may have noticed one of the walls facing Highway 1 at Hatch Elementary School slowly transform from plain white into a brightly colored landscape celebrating Coastside biology and geography.
About 80 Hatch Elementary students, predominantly fourth-graders, painted in shifts under the guidance of Coastside muralist and artist Ellen Silva, who specializes in community mural art. One of the things that makes this mural unique is that the students’ involvement was not limited just to the painting. Instead, the students were involved almost from the beginning, nominating animals and plants to be included in the mural after extensively studying Coastside nature during Oceans Week.
Each student who worked on the mural ended up contributing at least one drawing of a plant or animal, which Silva then scanned and transposed onto a background incorporating all the different animals, plants, and landscapes. The finished mural shows wetlands, a river, a sandy beach, a rocky shore, tidepools and open oceans. It includes native plants and animals such as deer, coyotes, salmon, owls, frogs, seals, humpback whales and starfish, all painted by the students.
“It starts with one drawing that’s ‘theirs’ but very quickly it turns into ‘ours,’” Silva observed.
For many students, the act of putting their artwork permanently on the wall of their school will leave a lasting sense of pride and accomplishment. As one student put it, “I can come over any time after the painting’s done and be like, ‘I made that’ ... And 30 years later, I can hopefully come back and still be able to say that.”
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