Mural in Oak Bluffs School cafeteria brightens room

Oak Bluffs School art teacher Kim O'Connor credits the Carson family for making the mural a reality. From left, Mary Ellen Casey, Oliver Carson, Kathryn Carson, Ms. O'Connor, and Kyle Carson. — Photo by Michelle Williams

In an early morning assembly Tuesday, Oak Bluffs School celebrated their last day and a new mural adorning the wall of the cafeteria.

Where there was once a plain, white wall, a 44- by 6-foot mural now brightens the space.

The mural was painted by Kim O’Connor, an art teacher at the the school.

Ms. O’Connor said the seed for the project was planted by former principal Laury Binney, who hoped the cafeteria would become a more kid-friendly space.

After teaching, Ms. O’Connor would spend a few hours designing the massive canvas. Once the initial design was complete, she invited students to help create the work. “Students helped create the animals, by drawing, painting and finger painting,” Ms. O’Connor said. The center of the painting features the handprints of students as leaves on a tree.

The work features an earth with different animals roaming about. Ms. O’Connor said she wanted it to be peaceful and create a calm ambiance amid the chaos of lunch in the cafeteria.

Alongside a tree, a young boy and a girl are resting, which represents the relationship between humans and nature, according to Ms. O’Connor. “The tree symbolizes the young girl and young boy taking care of the earth, with the tree of life in the center,” she said.

The mural is framed by the phrase, “the smallest change can make the biggest difference.” Each class at the school chose their favorite phrase and submitted it to be considered for the mural. The student council chose the phrase which made it to paint.

At the Tuesday assembly, Ms. O’Connor thanked the Carson family — Kyle, Kathryn, their son Oliver, and Mary Ellen Casey — who helped her with the project.

It took three years for the mural to be completed, but Ms. O’Connor said she is very happy with the result.