Around the District
New School Murals Focus on All Children
Representation matters. What children see can inspire and shape expectations for themselves and others. With that in mind, some schools here have worked with local artist Cbabi Bayuc to create murals that depict students of different races and abilities in a full spectrum of activities.
The student leadership team at Steger Sixth Grade Center and Henry Givens Jr. Elementary School had expressed interest in a mural that represented everyone, said Principal Howard Fields. He said the mural – located in a prime spot in the foyer at Steger -- was completed last spring.
“We see it as an extension of the district mission statement, focusing on all children: “The Webster Groves School District community is committed to academic and personal success for every student.”
He said that the colorful artwork has had an impact on students and adults alike. The children talk about it, he said, and “we’ve seen parents taking pictures of their children in front of it.”
You can see another mural by Cbabi, who goes by his first name, at Clark School. Teacher Pam Washington said that the school staff had a “conversation about diversity and equity. We thought it would be a great idea to bring Cbabi in.” She and administrative assistant Megan Pribish worked with him last year on what the mural should reflect.
“He outlined the design on the wall before painting, and at every single point in the process, from the sketch to painting, he described what he was doing for our students,” she said. He shared life lessons with them, as well.
Edgar Road invited Cbabi to come be part of a special project funded by the Webster Groves School District Foundation, “One Book, One School,” in which everyone in the school read the same book, followed the same lesson plans developed around a particular theme, which included art and social justice activities.
The book in this case, said Principal Julie Wuch, was “Of Thee I Sing,” by former President Barack Obama, and the theme was “You can be anything.”
“Cbabi read the book and we shared the lesson plans with him. The mural is his interpretation,” she said.
“This mural gave us something common for everyone to talk about,” she said. “We were able to bring in everyone around a single concept, which has been so powerful. We’re really proud of it. It sends a great message of acceptance.”
You can see Cbabi’s work in other school districts, including Parkway and Clayton, as well as at Lambert-St. Louis Airport, Grandel Square and the SweetArt Shop, 2203 S. 39th St. in St. Louis.
Ambrose Tinkering Room
Preschool children find plenty of tools to tinker with at the Walter Ambrose Family Center Preschool.
Connecting Songs to Dance at Bristol
Story and photo by Emma Binder
Students at Bristol Elementary are trying their hand at game development. Inspired by the popular game “Fortnite,” where players can buy certain dance moves for their characters, students are creating their own original dance steps. In Fortnite, each dance has a corresponding song.
Dr. Sara Wichard, Bristol’s music teacher, found that when she played a song from Fortnite, her students could associate it with the dance and immediately start to perform it. She saw it as the perfect opportunity for a lesson about the tie between music and memory. Students now recognize why they were able to connect the song to the dance, and how they can use music to help their memory.
Now, students are challenged to use GarageBand to create their own eight-measure song, and choreograph their own short dance to go with it. They plan to perform their dances at their fall concert.
Time for Cool Crops at Hudson Garden
Students at Hudson Elementary have been hard at work in the school garden. As summer comes to an end, second graders planted radishes as a cool weather crop.
Photo by Emma Binder
Novelist Alan Gratz Speaks at Hixson
Best-selling author Alan Gratz spoke to seventh grade students at Hixson Middle School. He explained his creative process and told stories about where he gets his ideas. His visit was made possible by Webster Groves’ independent bookstore, The Novel Neighbor, which offered students the opportunity to purchase Gratz's books at a discounted price.
High School Student Completes UMSL Bridge Program
Congratulations to Lamar Jackson, a sophomore at Webster Groves High School, who has completed the University of Missouri-St. Louis Bridge Program. The Bridge Program provides students in grades nine through 12 with educational experiences, college planning, and social and professional lessons necessary for the transition into college. Students in the program attended classes and workshops on the UMSL campus last summer.