It’s appropriate that the idea started with a suggestion a year ago from Tracy Saucier, director of the Beeville Art Museum. Saucier, says Moreno Gifted and Talented teacher Debra Hanus planted the idea with Moreno Principal Joni Barber, who passed it on to her.
Last October, Hanus broadcast an “all call” announcement on the school’s public address system, inviting any student interested to sign up.
About 20 responded, she says.
STEP ONE: decide what the mural would contain. The idea, Hanus explains, is that the youngsters would decide what subjects the mural depicted.
They chose four subjects: The Beeville Art Museum (no surprise there), the Rialto Theater, Lady of Justice atop the Bee County Courthouse and the Joe Barnhart Bee County Library. Students also have painted a scroll-like banner with “Moreno Middle School 2012-2013” on it.
STEP TWO: the students drew their ideas on pieces of paper the same size as the panels.
STEP THREE: once the template met their approval, work began in early December on the mural itself.
The Joe Barnhart Foundation supplied all the materials — three, 4-by-8-foot plywood panels, paint, brushes and aprons.
Hanus estimates each student involved in the project has spent at least 30 hours on the project.
“Just multiply 30 hours times 20 students,” she advises.
AFTER SCHOOL, on a Monday in early March, a number of students gathered in a portable classroom — once used to store textbooks — to work on the mural.
“I used an entire quart of Modern Masters Theme Paint to do the sky,” boasts seventh-grader Hadyn Kroen. The paint, he explains, is the same used at Disney theme parks.
“He made it come alive,” adds Hanus, who brings more than a dozen year’s experience in pottery, but admits that, although she has taken one course in painting, she had to teach herself some painting techniques to help the students.
As often occurs in a joint project, the students rapidly began working as a team.
“One student did the roof of the art museum, another did the steps. Today, we’re going to work on the balcony railings,” Hanus explains.
Helping the artists is a device called an Elmo connected to a computer projector. It projects photographs on the mural.
“Should I add shading here?” asks 12-year-old Martha Uribe.
“Let’s look at the photograph,” Hanus says, holding up a snapshot of the Rialto Theater.
HANUS HOPES the mural will be finished by the first week in April.
It is to be mounted in the school’s cafeteria, over the eastern main doors.
Hanus already has warned the maintenance department, because mounting the panels is not like hanging an ordinary picture.
Each plywood panel is reinforced around the edges with two-by-fours.
“They are heavy as heck,” Hanus says.
“Ideally, once it is mounted on the wall, I would like to have the school board over for some kind of unveiling ceremony,” Hanus says. “But getting them all together always is a challenge.”
Hanus pauses to scan the panels, which stretch across the entire wall of the classroom.
“I’m surprised that it came out as well as it did,” she says. “It doesn’t look like a professional came in and did it. It’s done by students, and I’m pleased with the quality.”
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.