GLEN ROCK, NJ - Sometimes borrowing an idea and making it your own can be inspiring.
The English Department at Glen Rock High School did just that as the teachers unveiled a graphic art installation in the English wing of the high school recently, all inspired by a Chicago high school.
The English Department unveiled the year-long project recently: 16 artistic panels installed over the lockers down the length of the English hallway. The panels include prints of book covers, themes, and quotations from the literature taught in grades 9-12.
The project was funded by several groups, including the Home and School Association, the Glen Rock High School Theatre Company, Glen Rock High School MOBIUS (the literary magazine), and Principal Arlotta’s enrichment fund. Parent Anthony Ranieri completed the graphic design and Phil Paradise performed the printing and installation.
The initial inspiration for the project came from a mid-western high school last winter, school officials said. At Mundelein High School, outside of Chicago, a few English teachers had huge vinyl prints made of some of the novels they taught in an effort to spark interest in reading. After this story floated around the Internet, the Glen Rock English department talked about doing something similar.
Principal Arlotta and Pat Mahoney, Leader of the Department of English, had a preliminary conversation. Around the same time, parent Alison Bloomfield, contacted Mahoney about the same project. Together they spoke about how they might be able to accomplish their own version. They quickly realized a full wall of book covers like the one in the Illinois project would not fit the available wall space in the upstairs D-hallway where almost all of the English classes met. However, Paradise thought they could make good use of the available wall space above the lockers.
At this point, Ranieri joined the project and drew several different proposals.
English teacher Peggy Todd joined Mahoney and met with Ranieri and Paradise several times throughout the summer and fall, and settled on the following proposal: 16 panels of a combination of book covers and quotations from books organized according to several key themes and motifs such as justice, courage, love, and belonging.
The English department worked together to determine the key themes, book groupings, and appropriate quotations.
“I am so excited to see this project come to fruition as it has been a real labor of love for me and, I think, for everyone who has collaborated on this project," Mahoney said. "We hope that it encourages our kids to be curious about the books they will be encountering in high school, and hopefully, the project will inspire everyone to read."