STAMFORD, CT — On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, the Stamford High School community gathered in the newly renovated inner courtyard to unveil the recently completed pollinator mural project.
The project was led by Module Downer and Kim Wheeler from the SHS Visual Art Department and the International Baccalaureate Program. The pollinator-themed mural was designed by SHS junior Zachary Trudeau and reimagined by muralist Suzanne Bellehumeur of Mural Interiors. It features colorful flowers and leaves, insects, and the SHS Black Knight logo right in the middle.
There’s also a smaller orange and yellow mural and another colorful art display with the words “Hope Always” in the courtyard.
For three months, students of all grades helped paint the murals, which were completed about two weeks ago. Additionally, volunteers from Gartner and Chase were organized through the Stamford Public Education Foundation and helped carry out the project.
“Doing this project made me realize the power of parental engagement and community involvement. It’s a product of what happens when schools, family and community work together,” said Downer told a small crowd gathered in the courtyard.
Downer and Wheeler praised the school’s Board of Governors for helping to bring the project to fruition. The council is made up of seven parents, five teachers, two community members, two students, the principal and an assistant principal.
Downer and Kim Kempton, a council parent, worked to secure grants and funding for the project. In total, they came up with around $10,000.
Monday also featured a STEAM fair in the backyard, where students had the opportunity to learn about being eco-friendly and how they can be responsible citizens. The fair featured a question and answer component that put students in the running for a $25 Amazon gift card.
The celebratory event included students from the SHS National Science Honor Society, Environmental Action Committee Food Sustainability, School Yard Habitat and the Art Club.
While researching other pollinator murals, Trudeau said he noticed lots of flowers, bees and insects.
“I liked it. I wanted to do something like that, but I also wanted to include some of the school in it, so I incorporated the Stamford High logo,” he said.
Trudeau wants to attend UConn and study graphic design. He noted that a big reason he lent his artistic ability to the project was to leave a legacy for SHS.
“I love having a piece of me here,” he said.
It took Trudeau about 20 tries before he was satisfied with his original design, which was recreated by Stamford resident Bellehumeur, who has been painting murals for 30 years.
“All the projects I’ve done for the community, especially the students, have been the most rewarding projects I’ve done,” she said. “The students are so excited. They love working together, which I love seeing. The first mural project they will never forget.”
The revitalization of the inner courtyard of the SHS began about two years ago. The two buildings surrounding it were built in 1927 and 1971, so the space had fallen by the wayside in recent years.
There is enough space for students to congregate outside and socialize, and perhaps have lunch. There are plans to build an amphitheater with more seats, according to SHS director Matthew Forker.
Forker said he was thrilled to see so many students involved in the pollinator mural project.
“We’ve really made an effort this year to make it a total team effort. Everything we’ve done here has been focused on getting as many kids, teachers and staff involved as possible,” said said Forker. “That’s what it’s really about…the more kids get involved, the more they participate, the more they want to be part of the school.”
Forker hopes students can learn by seeing a completed concept from start to finish.
Stamford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tamu Lucero was impressed with the community involvement.
“If we’re modeling this now in high school, we can only hope for this as they make their way to the Stamford community,” she said.