NEW PALESTINE — Brandywine Elementary School students are taking part in a contest to see whose creations will be among the first to grace a tile art wall.
The United Way of Hancock County has partnered with the Greenfield Parks Department to create the decorated wall intended to foster a sense of community throughout the county.
The wall will feature decorative tiles and be located near the park by the Courthouse Annex building in Greenfield, just north of the Pennsy Trail.
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Paula Jarrett, area director for the United Way, came up with the idea to create the art wall as a way to help people enjoy the park and Pennsy Trail even more. The project is also part of a bigger community comprehensive plan to beautify and unite Hancock County, Jarrett said.
“It’s going to be in a great location for people to soak it all in,” she said. “We want people to not only see their tile but to take in everyone’s tile.”
Together, the tiles will reflect what it means to live united in the community, Jarrett said.
The United Way is in the process of selling construction pavers to help fund the wall, estimated to cost $25,000.
Jarrett was contacted by Brandywine Elementary art teacher Monica Holden, who suggested students in the school’s Visions Art program could make some of the first tiles to go on the wall. School officials will pay for the $100 cost per tile for the top designs to go up on the wall.
Holden created a competition among her Vision Arts fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students; she challenged them to come up with a unique design. Teachers will select the winners before school lets out for the summer.
“I thought this would be a really neat way for our students to be involved with the beautification of the trail,” Holden said.
The more she can get the students involved in community projects, the better they’ll understand how connected a community is, Holden said. Jarrett attended one of their Vision Art meetings and explained the importance of the project.
“When they’re grown up, they can take their kids to go see what they helped design,” Holden said.
The Brandywine students are piloting the tile segment of the wall for the United Way. United Way officials will take the idea to other school classrooms in Hancock County in the fall to see if they’d like to be part of the program, too.
Brandywine sixth-grader Evan Griffith said he was thinking about designing a tile with the school’s mascot, a bulldog, on it.
“I like the teamwork and how everyone is trying to do something neat with this,” he said.
Fellow sixth-grader Paige Boehm said she liked the goal of the project.
“People can look at it and think about how this is what being united should be,” she said.
The United Way is thinking about having a fun community event where people can come and create a tile for the wall, but the first step is raising funding and awareness.
Organizers are in the process of selling business or personal sponsorships for at least 25 pavers. There are 50 pavers in all available for $1,000 each. Once they raise $25,000 they can start selling the individual tiles for the wall.