WINDHAM — Year by year, fifth-graders are turning plain Center School walls into works of art.
Their tile murals, created with the help of New Hampshire artist Rob Rossel, are a lasting gift to their school, commemorating Windham treasures and symbols.
This week, they are working on a mural of the Windham jaguar, mascot of the high school teams, which will hang in the gym.
“It’s your mural,” Rossel told some of the fifth-graders as they got down to work yesterday. “It stays with the school.”
This is the fourth year Rossel has visited the school as an artist-in-residence to craft a tile mural.
Prior efforts produced murals of Searles Castle and Windham’s London Bridge, as well as a white ash tree that stood for a century and a half on school grounds before disease caused its removal about 15 years ago.
Those murals adorn school hallways.
About 230 students in nine fifth-grade classes rotate through the program over three days.
Art teacher Lynn Middleton said they will spend about 45 minutes creating a tile.
Nearly 1,000 students in all have participated in the murals over four years.
Brothers and sisters are now following in their siblings’ footsteps. Kids who worked on the first mural, the tree, are now in eighth grade at Windham Middle School.
This year’s fifth-graders were in the second grade down the street at Golden Brook School when the school put up the first mural.
“They know this is a fifth-grade experience and something to leave for posterity,” principal Kathryn Bates said. “This is a mark they can leave forever.”
Former students return and check out their work.
“They do come back to visit and we see them looking at their mural,” Bates said.
They aren’t the only ones who delight in the murals.