BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ -- Years of the life at Cedar Hill School come alive in a colorful and detailed mural that brightens up the elementary school cafeteria.

Principal Paul Ciempola described the months-long journey from idea to paint to the Bernards Township Board of Education, which was meeting in the room Monday night, March 18.

Last spring, the school buried a time capsule to observe the 60th anniversary of the school off Peachtree Road, he said. Every student contributed something to the capsule, and all the students in the K-3 school contributed to making the mural, he said.

Sign Up for Basking Ridge Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

The mural shows trees, books with names of past and present school leaders and staffers and contributors to the school over the years and a rendering of the building. The new look replaces one-color walls with green and yellow horizontal stripes that kind of looked like an “’80s fast-food restaurant,” said Mr. Ciempola.

The work started in the summer with new round café tables and preparation of the surfaces for painting by Monk’s Home Improvements, a local company. Supervising Basking Ridge artist Caren Frost Olmstead sketched basic outlines in January and February, and students and 100 parents volunteered to follow with paint. About 85 percent placed their family name somewhere on the wall.

Each of the 550 student’s handprints appear somewhere on the walls, Ciempola said.

For three weeks work went on without interrupting classes, lunches or use of the room and stage for music lessons, Ciempola said.

The mural impresses with its color, detail and imagination.

Bright-eyed faces of golden owlets, the school mascot, peer out from a school bus. From the tail of a plane flies a banner with the school motto of “compassion, honor, service.” On the back is a likeness of a sign honoring Joseph Mollica, who was principal for 22 years before retiring in 2016.