For the past several months, Orchard School library media specialist Donna Sullivan-Macdonald and art teacher Susie Ely have coordinated on a community art project that connects students with other schools across the country. The Traveling Mural Dot Project creates collaborative murals that reflect what students have been reading, as well as representing local history and culture.
This fall, inspired by the book “Maybe Something Beautiful” by Rafael Lopez, Orchard students decorated giant paper dots to create murals, one of which would be shared at other schools in the U.S. The shared mural includes symbols of the school’s history as a former apple orchard site, the current perennial gardens on school grounds, and the nearby Lake Champlain and mountains.
For their part, Orchard School will receive 10-foot lengths of murals from schools in New Jersey, Texas, Connecticut, Illinois, Virginia, South Carolina, California, and Washington. Each portion of mural will be accompanied by a letter from students discussing their region’s geography, history, and the significance of any symbols pictured. The resulting community mural is currently displayed in the hallway outside the library.
In addition to displaying the murals as a collective art piece, Orchard students have many opportunities throughout the year to connect with their national and global community. At the International Dot Day, celebrated for a week each fall, they skyped with other classrooms around the world and read books together with those classrooms. Students also use media platforms to participate in the Global Read Aloud, where they connect with as many different locations around the world as possible with other students who are reading the same books. Many art and science projects stem from the books read during this unit.
In February, students will participate in World Read Aloud Day, another global celebration of literacy. For more information about the school library and the many opportunities Orchard students have through the library, visit https://orchardschoollibrary.weebly.com/.