Students at Waldorf School were hard at work Friday, paint brushes in hand, putting finishing touches on a commemorative mural.
With their school just outside Nelson on Silver King Ski Hill Road celebrating their 30-year anniversary, the Grade 5 and 6 class timed a mural project featuring outdoor activities to be finished on Earth Day.
Outdoor education is an important curricular component in all Waldorf schools but the Nelson school had a little bit of an extra advantage considering their ideal location, says teacher Tanya Thayer.
“Because of where we are, in the Kootenays – this school is on 35 acres of forest, we’re in nature all of the time so to not use what we’re in would be a shame,” she says.
Younger students start their education by simply being in nature and observing. As they advance in grades, the children become more interactive with the wild world around them. Their mural shows that progression.
“It shows all the outdoor education things that we do starting from those daily walks in kindergarten,” Thayer says.
From children perched upon a log surrounded by a field of flowers to students decked out in for camping to cycling and skiing, the mural encapsulates fond memories. Even iconic Argenta farmer Vince McIntyre who impressed students with his use of horse and cart is featured.
The project has brought perspective to students as some reminisce in good experiences had and others delight in what they have to look forward to.
“If you’re an eighth grade student in the school you know the whole gamut of the curriculum. But for others, whatever age you’re at, you only know where they’re at and this has really broadened the perspective of what our whole school does,” Thayer says. “This stretches their understanding of past, present and future.”
While she started planning work on the project in October, students began work on this mural with classroom sketches in February and then chose “which ones really show best what our school program is,” says Thayer.
Local artist Ron Mulvey came on board to lend his expertise. He’s helped make the scenes flow through the seasons and grades — on site to guide but the impetus has come from the kids.
“I’ve given them a few ideas, set them on a path,” he says. “These kids are great to work with. They’re artistically developed with staying power.”
The students were excited to see their project near completion on Friday afternoon.
“It looks really good,” says Grade 5 student Emily Raynor. “We started with just dabbing colours on. Now, we’re doing the finishing touches. When it’s done, it’s just going to look awesome.”
The project benefitted from ArtStart BC funding as well as donations from local outdoor enthusiasts Whitewater Ski Resort, Valhalla Pure Outfitters and Boomtown Sports Emporium.