Students makeover OMES

OMHS and OMES students work together to create artwork for the main hallway at the elementary school. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

OMHS and OMES students work together to create artwork for the main hallway at the elementary school. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY—Oak Mountain High School and Oak Mountain Elementary School students gathered around 20 canvases spread out through the elementary school’s cafeteria on Jan. 8. Armed with paintbrushes, the older students and younger students worked together to bring pencil sketches to life with brightly colored paints.

The Jan. 8 activity was part of a cooperative project with OMHS and OMES to create new decorations for the elementary school.

“This school is 25 years old, and a lot of the things on the walls were getting old and dingy,” OMES art teacher Carol Popwell said, explaining she wanted to bring something “colorful and inviting” as well as “something the children had a part in” to the walls of the school.

Popwell reached out to OMHS art teachers Nicole McKinney and Ashley Lemley about collaborating to create new decorations.

“We thought it would be fun for the high school and elementary school students to work together,” Popwell said.

Each of the 20 canvases, designed by OMHS students, depicts something the OMES students can relate to. Sixteen of the canvases represent character traits and four show things special to the school.

“Every day our principal says, ‘Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours,’” Popwell said, indicating a canvas depicting those words.

Popwell also pointed out a canvas with a caterpillar and butterfly, representing patience.

“Every child in here has that concept of the patience of waiting for a caterpillar to become a butterfly,” Popwell said, explaining caring for caterpillars is a tradition in science classes at OMES.

In addition to creating unique and beautiful artwork for the school, the project also gave the high school and elementary school students a chance to interact.

“We’re showing them what to do, but giving them the ropes,” OMHS junior Sarah Kathryn Hicks said. “They’re so cute and sweet, and they look up to you.”

“This has been a very rewarding experience,” Lemley said. “I would definitely do it again.”

After two days of collaborative painting, the students aimed to complete the project on Jan. 8. The canvases will decorate the walls and main hallway of OMES.

“All of it (is from) the students,” Popwell said. “We organized it as teachers, but all of the work is theirs.”