By Mike McClure

The hallways of the Seaford Middle School are a lot quieter right now due to online learning caused by COVID-19, but that has allowed some of the school’s students a chance to brighten them up with paint colors and messages of unity and diversity.

Shown are murals done by Seaford Middle School students in the school’s hallway, nicknamed “chicken run”. Photo by Mike McClure

With the amount of division in the country, Principal James Cave came up with the idea of having students paint murals in the hallway, they call the Chicken Run, that connects the school’s two buildings.

“We need to get back to ‘we’re all one’. That probably starts in the school,” said Cave. “It makes the school feel like part of the community, feel like home.”

Art teacher Lisa M. Cherivtch is working with students, who submitted their designs during the first marking period and began working on the murals at the start of the second marking period, in November. The theme for the murals is “unity and diversity”.

Students from the Life Skills class, students with learning or intellectual disabilities, painted their murals first.

“It was a great opportunity for them to express themselves in ways they wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” Life Skills teacher Arizona Prinkey said. “They took the initiative to design the silhouettes. It’s something that was uncomfortable, but there was a lot of energy and excitement to do the project.”

The Life Skills teachers were there to help the students with any questions they had, but the students came up with the designs themselves.

The school started the hallway art project three years ago by pairing ceiling tiles. Due to COVID-19 and a lack of space, the mural project is easier to do than tiles. Cherivtch said she is able to bring in small groups of students and have them spread out to work on their murals.

While the students will eventually move on to high school, and beyond, their art will be left behind at the school as a memory. The project allows the students to brighten their school and leave something behind.

“When they come back they can see the artwork they left,” said Cave. “The kids really enjoy it and she’s (Cherivtch) getting more and more volunteers. Hopefully this is the first of many projects.”

“Once they go into high school they can come back and say they left a positive note on the school,” Prinkey added.

Students are currently working on the first phase of the project, the second phase is the connecting hallway. The students come in to paint two days a week. Between snow days, in-service days, and Cherivtch serving as a substitute teacher it is a long process, but the students are accomplishing the task, one brush stroke at a time.