Students at Benson Middle joined community members in unveiling a mural at in the heart of downtown Benson, at Benton Card Company located between Wall and Main Streets.
Students at Benson Middle worked with local community artist, Markus Tracy, to create five magnificent murals in the school and in the community.
The students were able to work with Tracy after the school’s art teacher, Magen Pike, received a grant from the Artist in Education Residency for $14,250.
Tracy began working with Benson Middle in February to create the murals. The school then held conversations with community partners, organizations, and parents to help design the murals, which took a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM).
The staff at Benson Middle took part in expanding student learning in all areas and strategies by incorporating the mural. The Benson community and organizations in the town developed a strong interest in the final outcome of the grant as the murals took shape.
The murals were themed with Benson Middle School’s mascot, the Phantom, as the basis of the concept for the five different mural designs: Words, Respect, Student Themed, Community Mural, and The Heart.
The Phantom is represented first in the “Words” mural. The” Words” were selected from the students, families and faculty members through a digital interaction and survey. The “Words” were installed upside down and backwards on the windows in a uniformed font but in the languages close to home – Spanish and English.
The adjacent mural, a large scale word “RESPECT,” presented in American Sign Language is adorned with handmade ceramic disks to also present the communication of the blind language in American Braille. Students created the braille out of clay using basic pottery techniques and firing the discs in the school’s kiln.
The third mural was site specific with paintings consisting of four students pairing with their silhouettes. The “Student Themed” mural is located in the arts hallway and the breezeway between the eighth grade and sixth and seventh grade hallways at Benson Middle. It displays present educational experiences with foreshadowing of their future selves as adults.
The “Community Mural” represents the past, present, and future of the Town of Benson. Using the “I Love Benson” theme, a heart was cut from the “Community Mural”.
“The Heart” will be placed in Benson Middle as one of the five murals. “The Heart” is a type of puzzle piece, a perfect connection to community and school. The heart was centered with a traditional map connecting the heart of the town of Benson using old US NC HWY systems 301, 27 and 50.
School staff say students developed an appreciation, a new experience and understanding for the town’s heritage.