Canaan School dedicates student-made Darby Creek mural

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Canaan Middle School’s mural painting team and their creation: (from left) Logan Sowards, Rachel Clemens, Sophia Tonti, Madeline Frambes, Millia Runkle. Jenna Keiffer, Avery Hecht, Drew Bailey, Renee Rice, Olivia McCoy and Emma Pauly. Not pictured: Lauren Abend, J.J. Bailey and mural coordinator Hilary Frambes.
Canaan Middle School’s mural painting team and their creation: (from left) Logan Sowards, Rachel Clemens, Sophia Tonti, Madeline Frambes, Millia Runkle. Jenna Keiffer, Avery Hecht, Drew Bailey, Renee Rice, Olivia McCoy and Emma Pauly. Not pictured: Lauren Abend, J.J. Bailey and mural coordinator Hilary Frambes.

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

A team of young artists has brought the outside inside at Canaan Middle School.

At 6:30 p.m. March 5, the school, part of the Jonathan Alder Local School district, will dedicate a 16×12-foot mural depicting the animals of Big Darby Creek. The dedication coincides with the school’s annual Arts & Learning Festival which runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Hilary Frambes, a parent, artist and school district volunteer, spearheaded the project. She is a member of an online community of art teachers who exchange ideas on various topics, including the combination of environmental awareness and art. Inspiration struck when Principal Jamie Pund commented on how blank Canaan’s walls were following remodeling.

 “That’s where the mural idea came in, showing animals in the ecosystem of the Darby since it’s in the school district’s backyard,” said Frambes, whose daughter Madeline is a sixth-grader at Canaan and son Grant is  an eighth-grader at the junior high.

Frambes assembled the mural team through an application process. Interested fifth- and sixth-graders wrote a story or poem or drew a picture explaining why they wanted to participate. The result was a 13-student team: Lauren Abend, Drew Bailey, J.J. Bailey, Rachel Clemens, Madeline Frambes, Avery Hecht, Jenna Keiffer, Olivia McCoy, Emma Pauly, Renee Rice, Millia Runkle, Logan Sowards and Sophia Tonti.

 “In September, we took a trip to Battelle Darby Creek Metropark to do research,” Frambes said. “The students learned what type of animals live there, what the creek looks like. They took photos, took notes and did sketches while they were there.”

Each student picked two or three animals for which they would be responsible for painting. They started with pencil drawings, which they enlarged on a photocopier then cut out and arranged to develop the mural’s overall composition. From there, they recreated their drawings using markers on clear acetate. The drawings were placed on a projector, traced onto the wall, then painted.

 “We chose to put the mural on the first floor next to the science classroom and across from the band room,” Frambes said.

The colorful end product fills the wall space from floor to ceiling. Among the animals depicted are birds, fish, frogs, a fox, a snake, mussels, owls, a blue heron, a butterfly, squirrels and possum.

 “The mural is a visual message to appreciate and preserve the Darby Creek Watershed,” Frambes said.  

Students completed all of their work during after-school hours. A youth arts and recreation grant from United Way of Union County helped to pay for art supplies.

Jen Rosa, a naturalist with the Metro Parks system, will speak at the dedication.

Canaan Middle School is located at 7055 U.S. Route 42 S., Plain City.

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