The year 2017 ended on a bright note at Jefferson Elementary School in Westfield as students put the finishing touches on the giant mural spanning the building’s main hallway. A total of 290 third, fourth and fifth grade students each participated in 20-minute sessions creating scenes which represent their school and town. Jefferson traditions such as Walk to School Day, the school’s playground and garden, and providing lunches for the homeless were depicted in the paintings. The project also included familiar Westfield landmarks including Tamaques Park, the Armory and the train station.    

Co-presidents of the Jefferson PTO Chitra Singh and Wendy Rotella explained that the project took one year from planning to completion, with parents volunteering to prepare the walls with base coats of color prior to the three weeks of student participation. Preliminary sketches were under the guidance of artist Caren Frost Olmsted of Morris Arts.  The funding for the mural, which spans 160 feet in length, was made possible through the PTO with enthusiastic endorsement by students and staff. 

Fifth grader Claire Gallagher stated, “I really like that everybody in the school put their piece on it; even when we move on to a different school, it will be here.” 

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Victoria Marmarou agreed, “I really enjoyed that we made a mark on the school that will be here forever.” 

Third grader Jake Florio added, “All these parts of Westfield are represented and I like seeing the town.”

In addition to painting scenes depicting the town and the school, words of inspiration were included within the mural.  Jefferson Principal Dr. Susie Hung explained, “We wanted the messages to carry sentiments of kindness and to encourage belief in oneself.”  Some of the quotations include:  “You can do anything you set your mind to” and “Kindness begins with me.”

When asked how she feels about the mural, fifth grader Canya Nematadzira said, “I like how it tells us to believe in ourselves.”  Regan Stevens, who is in the third grade, remarked, “Besides representing our school, we got to paint on the walls!”

Pictured: Celebrating the completion of a 160 foot mural in the Jefferson Elementary School’s hallway are, standing l-r:  Westfield third graders Gavin Martin, Jayden Cummings, Sonya Seideman, Regan Stevens and Jake Florio, and fourth graders Daniel Garcia and Hannah Linsen, with Principal Dr. Susie Hung.  First row includes fourth graders Ashley Garcia and Kayla Genlot, along with fifth graders Claire Gallagher, Canya Nematadzira, Hannah Ramdath, Victoria Marmarou, and Isaiah Louison.  The group poses at the section of the mural depicting the front of the school and its clock.