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Buffalo Ridge mural to make a lasting impression

By Celeste McNeil; photos courtesy of Tim Ryckman

Photo BRE Murals

Third grade student Isabella R. pauses her mural painting for a photo, capturing the student’s hard work.

 The annual third grade show at Buffalo Ridge Elementary (BRE) had a special treat for those attending the show this year. Art teacher Tim Ryckman led the third graders in a unique art project to accompany their show – they collectively designed and painted a wall mural visible to all who entered the gym.

Knowing Principal Jen Murdock-Jacoway had expressed a desire to post the A HERD theme around the school, Ryckman consulted with physical education teacher Ronda Gutierrez about a mural running the length of the hall from the school’s main entrance to the gym. Everyone agreed and Ryckman approached the third grade classes about tackling the project. The students studied professional artists’ mural work and considered common art aspects like audience, composition and emotion. They collectively settled on bold colors, hard lines and a flowing fun style. Ryckman compiled all the suggestions and drafted a sketch. Then the kids got to work.

Photo BRE kids painting murals

All three third grade classes took turns painting the new school mural. Lloyd M. from Erin Henderson’s third grade class cheerfully smiles for the camera.

Ryckman said, “The kids were so excited to start the mural. I overheard many say, ‘My parents never let me paint on the walls! This is awesome!’” Not surprisingly, several of the students went home with paint in their hair or on their hands and faces.

Overall, it was a good experience for everyone. Students, awed by the permanence of the project, understand that they can return long after they graduate from BRE and point to mural portions that they painted. Parents delighted in seeing the mural when they attended the evening performance of the third grade show. Students excitedly showed off the sections they worked on as everyone filed in and out of the gym. The reaction from parents, staff and other students “has been incredible” Ryckman stated. The vibrant, colorful mural affects the feel of the school’s entry. “I love that our kids’ art gets the honor of brightening people’s days as they walk by,” commented Ryckman.

The third grade show is a production that involves singing, dancing and art. The students work together within and between the third grade classes. They learn new songs, create choreography and design a combined art project. This year, the show’s theme mirrored the overall school focus – A HERD. The guiding principles for all students at BRE are academic excellence, honesty, empathy, respect and dedication. Staff and students are continually creating school culture around the A HERD values, focusing on teamwork and supporting one another while intentionally fostering deeper school community connections.

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