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Fostering Community and Belonging Through Art

Fostering Community and Belonging Through Art
Posted on 08/11/2023

Following the decision to close 16 schools in Jeffco Public Schools as part of the Regional Opportunity for Thriving Schools initiative, a community mural project was created to help students from both closing and welcoming schools feel a sense of belonging and unity.

This artistic collaboration involved students from Red Rocks Community College's (RRCC) Visual, Audio and Media Arts Department (VAMA) and Jeffco’s Warren Tech Graphic Design Program, under the guidance of teachers Scot Odendahl and Pete Cunis from Warren Tech and Department Chair Paul D. Weinrauch from Red Rocks Community College. Together, they completed a 48" x 150" community mural for the district.

Jeffco Community Mural

The project involved 16 closing schools and 16 welcoming schools, with each pairing focusing on the theme of belonging to create a unique mural featuring the word community. Each school developed a process to solicit and select one piece of art from each grade level, kindergarten through fifth grade.

The resulting banners were printed this summer at Warren Tech and displayed at the receiving schools, welcoming the new students for the 2023-24 school year. The mural, created from 200 submissions of student artwork, showcases a diverse range of artistic expression including paintings, drawings, sculptures, mixed media and more.

A team of 16 students from RRCC and Warren Tech worked together to composite the K-5 student artwork, while VAMA photography student, Jose Venzor digitized and photographed the submissions. 

This collaborative project demonstrates the power of artistic expression in fostering a sense of belonging for students facing significant transitions. The community mural serves as a visual representation of unity and support for both the closing and welcoming schools – helping students navigate the challenges of change and embracing the opportunities for growth and connection.

The participating schools in this project included:

  • Emory Elementary School and Lasley Elementary School
  •  Peck Elementary School and Secrest Elementary School
  •  Swanson Elementary School
  •  Campbell Elementary School and Vanderhoof Elementary School
  •  Peiffer Elementary School and Kendallvue Elementary School
  •  Colorow Elementary School and Powderhorn Elementary School
  •  Green Mountain Elementary School
  •  Molholm Elementary School and Lumberg Elementary School
  •  Glennon Heights Elementary School and Belmar School of Integrated Arts
  •  Parr Elementary School and Little Elementary School
  •  Sheridan Green Elementary School and Ryan Elementary School
  •  Witt Elementary School and Lukas Elementary School
  •  New Classical Academy at Vivian and Stober Elementary School 
  •  Wilmore-Davis Elementary School and Stevens Elementary School
  •  Kullerstrand Elementary School and Prospect Valley Elementary School
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