LIVINGSTON, NJ — The main entrance to Hillside Elementary School now depicts the uniqueness of each of the school’s students through its new “rock garden”—the outcome of this year’s Hillside Elementary art-enrichment project.

Each year in March, the Hillside Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) hosts a weeklong art-enrichment project to celebrate Art Appreciation Month. Thanks to this year’s Art Appreciation chairs, Jaime Lauro and Amy Drost, this year’s project not only celebrated art, but also carried a positive message and beautified the school as well.

This year’s art project was based on the inspirational book “Only One You” by Linda Kranz.

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The reader follows a small fish named Adri, whose mama and papa give him comforting words of advice to guide him as he explores the world. The simple but powerful message of the book is, “There’s only one you in this great big world. Make it a better place.” 

The artwork in the book shows decorated rocks that create the unique “fish” in the story. Taking from this idea, the chairs organized a lesson plan for volunteers to use in the classrooms and collected more than 250 pounds of rocks and painting materials. 

During Art Appreciation Week, parent volunteers went into the classrooms, read the book to the class, held a discussion on the meaningful topics the book touches on and had the children paint rocks that were as unique as they are.

In order to have everyone involved in the project, the PTA also hosted a themed rock-painting event of their own for the staff to enjoy. After all the masterpiece rocks were collected, they were sprayed with a sealant to keep them fresh looking through all of New Jersey’s crazy weather.

Thanks to Hillside parent and landscaper, Nick DiFrancisco of White Birch Landscaping, the rock garden was installed and now offers a bright, beautiful main entrance to the school.

The school thanked all the parents who were involved with this project and DiFrancisco of for donating his time and materials to making the rock garden a reality.

All photos were provided by the Hillside Elementary School PTA. 

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