The Community Art Piece is Promoting Good Mental Health for Us All

Rainbow streamers, hung up on the ceiling with students messages on them.

Rainbow streamers, hung up on the ceiling with student’s messages on them.

Lennea Gregg, Reporter

When students are given freedom of expression, a positive school community is created.The community art piece is done every year by the FMHS art club. Several artistically talented students produce an interactive artwork for the student body to partake in that will promote connectivity and build relationships between students. This project is known for its unique nature and ability to lighten the mood of any student who stumbles upon it. 

This year, the project has certainly enhanced connectivity. This year’s students generated the idea to hand out strips of construction paper to students in the school’s commons area and allow them to draw anything that ‘describes them’, or ‘represents their identity’. With these simple instructions in mind, students have produced many strips that all display personality, passion and individuality. While students have been ‘apprehensive’, says co-project leader Isabella Koppenhafer, a FMHS junior, there have been many who are very willing to contribute, as this ‘special opportunity to express often brings out the best in people.’ 

 The members have been eager to increase the participation, with presentations to Wildcat classes, after school events where materials to contribute are provided and many daily outreach efforts to students in the commons during access time. The approach has been very lighthearted and often a mere suggestion, but the hope is that ‘people actually feel good about what they’re drawing, and essentially realize that they’re really adding to something larger…’, Alyx Montgomery, another student part of the art piece said. 

Students’ reactions have been mixed, but mostly, the majority are willing to add to the project. “It’s nice to be approached”, said Maleigha Leckey, a student who was sitting, doing homework in the commons when asked to ‘make a strip!’. Leckey said she immediately felt inclined to ‘write down positive things, and draw happy pictures.’ The very urging to express herself felt like a positive notion in itself. 

The approach of the Art Club has been carried out well, even if fewer than hoped students have participated. The singular effect on one student alone is a monumental feat. The connection with students has been so minimal due to the pandemic’s effects. And school has become one of the most blocked off resources of interrelations. 

When such connectivity is promoted by students, and some included staff, it creates an overall sense of passion for each other’s self positivity. Even the smallest inclusion in something much larger than seemingly presented is powerful and impacts students beyond knowing. Projects such as these are what make a difference in our school community, and when such a display is seen, that impact will be felt by many. The community art piece is an example of what should be promoted in our school, and our district; positive self expression and the invitation to introduce yourself to your peers, with no regulation inhibiting just how you choose to do so. ‘

“Make a strip! Make ten,” Koppenhafer said when I asked to participate.