STRING MURAL FOR YOUR SCHOOL
For our third year of the #whyyoumatter campaign, our student committee decided to focus on connections. In our school, students are part of many groups - and like the world we live in, those groups and sub groups can create a divisive environment. We are one community but many of us don’t know each other. This year students’ wanted to break down those barriers that divide us and start looking for similarities instead of differences. There are “common threads” that run between all of us as humans. We just have to look for them.
So! the #whyyoumatter campaign this year is about connection. We live in a world where you can sit right next to someone and not even know them. Or you might know of them, but because they don’t play your sport, aren’t in your club, or don’t share your values you choose to stay disconnected. Connection, however, is the most important thing to us as human beings. There is a common thread that runs between all of us, you just have to look for it. If we can try harder to make these connections, big and small, we can create a happier environment where we look out for each other. So how are you going to make a new connection? How can you make this school a better place?
As always, our first step after the coming up with our theme was to figure out how much funding we would need. The goal was to have a string to represent each staff and student in the school. In addition, we needed materials to build the structure and to do a few activities we have to lead up to the mural. Thank goodness for the Chelsea Education Foundation! They granted us $1,000 to make this year's vision a reality. We are always grateful the CEF! Most schools have something similar to this or other local grant providers. Ask your administrator for more information. Another alternative to getting a grant would be to do a fundraiser within your school.
THANK YOU CHELSEA
A week after our Speaker Series, students came together again in their classes. We started the lesson with a PowerPoint that guided teachers and students through the lesson.
First, students got in small groups of 3-4 students and discussed the following questions:
5 minute mingle
Next we wanted students to make some personal connections. They stood up and had 5 minutes to ask each other as many questions as they could to find out something they had in common with each other. We had a list on the board in case they got stuck what to ask. It was awesome to watch them giggling and being interested in the answers of kids they barely knew.
After 5 minutes (or longer), students got in a huge circle. One started with a ball of yarn. They had to throw it across the circle to someone that they found a common thread/ connection with. Then the next person, still holding the string, threw the ball to another person they had a connection with. By the end, each class had a huge, colorful web of yarn that represented all the next connections made within the class. Each teacher took a photo and some even put the web up on their ceiling tiles!
Planning the Mural
The idea behind this mural was to show the the beauty of human connections. We wanted to represent every member of the school community in the mural.
Originally, we had thought that we could somehow physically represent every connection made during this year's campaign. We ended up moving away from that idea after we couldn't decide as a group how to make it happen within our time and budget for the year. Not only that, but we had hoped to use the yarn from the web activities. Yarn, however, turned out to be too stretchy for what we needed. So here is how we came up with our mural...
We tallied up all the pledges that students entered using their QR code from the web activity. We organized them into 6 categories and assigned each category a color.
The following week, in the same class, we talked again about the pledges. We had them look over their previous pledes and see if they wanted to add/change. Then we had them put that pledge into one of these categories and choose the appropriate color. Next students and staff members got a small slip of corresponding colored cardstock and wrote their pledge on that paper.
1. Embroidery String. Aunt Lydia's Classic 10. (Bought from both Michaels and Joanne Fabrics)
2. Ceiling clips. Bernie's Office Supplies Metal Drop Ceiling Hooks. (Ordered on Amazon!)
3. Wood (1X4/s split in half the long way)
5. L Brackets, nuts and bolts to hold on brackets.
4. Cup Hooks
Blue - Kindness
(to self and others)
(get involved/join a club/help)
Yellow - Personal Spaces
(make the school a prettier place!)
Orange - Personal Growth
(work on your own health/balance)
Red - Connections
(create/strengthen connections with others)
Purple - Advocate
(stand up for something you believe in!)
Building the String Mural
We decided to put the mural in front of three large floor to ceiling windows above the commons, so that the kids could see and walk past it every day. We built a frame that would attach to the radiators at the bottom of window. Building the bottom of the frame was easy but the tricky part is figuring out where to attach it. We ended up splitting a 1X4 and using that as the base. On that 1X4 we drilled holes and screwed in cup hooks 2 inches apart. We attached the board with L brackets to the back of the radiator. Making sure to keep away from the hot part of the radiator, it was surprising how sturdy it turned out! Now we were ready to string!
Stringing the Mural
Stringing the mural took about a dozen people. We had 4 ladders and a ton of donuts to keep us going. It was impossible to build a frame and attach on top of the window frame because it is all metal. So, we went metal drop-ceiling hanger clips! They worked great!
1. We made sure all the string was laid out in the correct windows according to our diagram. Each student pair had a window and color they were responsible for. One of the ladder, one on the ground.
2. We attached the beginning of the string to from the cup hook (tied it on TIGHT) and the person on the ground fed the string up to the person on top of the ladder.
3. The person on the ladder fed it through the ceiling clip. and back down to the person on the group. Then repeat. We definitely got our squats in.
4. Colors were changed or added according to the diagram. When finished we just made sure everything was secure. It took forever but it turned out super cool.
While some were working on the mural itself, others were working on taping up the pledges. Since the idea was that the string represented the pledges - we wanted the pledges to be part of the mural. So a group of students helped organize and tape up the pledges between the windows and on the railing behind them.
After collecting all of the pledges from the entire school community, we counted them all! We came up with a percentage of each color/category and translated that into how much of each colored string would be used in the mural.
So the mural became kind of a visual graph of the student body's pledges and commitments to improve our school. Here are the sample sketches we made before we started- they changed a bit as we calculated the results:
TM by the #WhyYouMatter Campaign