, Salem, MA

March 10, 2014

Strokes of creativity

Riverside School mural reflects student pride


---- — DANVERS — Fifth-graders at the Riverside School are learning how to create a mural, with an eye toward fashioning a large one to be installed on a wall in their school.

Their ideas will also influence a large mural along the Danvers Rail Trail, a public art project planned for downtown this year.

DanversCARES, the town’s youth drug-prevention coalition, has partnered with the Danvers Rail Trail and mural artist Alan Persall of West Newbury to design a large-scale painting on the side of the Fisher Auto Parts building at 89 Maple St., at the intersection of Maple, Hobart and Locust streets. The mural, when completed, would cover the side of the building along the trail, about 750 square feet.

The painting will reflect Danvers history and provide a message of a healthy community. The school mural will reflect student pride in the Riverside School.

“Right now the kids are working on creating the general theme of the mural,” said Jason Verhoosky, DanversCARES youth program coordinator. “They are working to actually incorporate different elements of Danvers, the school community and culture as well as important historic landmarks.”

On Friday, Riverside School students began to learn how to take a small drawing and scale it up to size, first drawing their ideas on graph paper, then mapping their sketches on large sheets of brown paper stretched across several tables. The students drew a river and the word “pride” across the paper.

At the Riverside School, the word “pride” is shorthand for the school’s code of conduct: “Positive,” “Respect,” “Include,” “Do-the-right-thing,” and “Effort.”

“So we are doing a mural of Danvers, and it’s supposed to be like there’s a Danvers River, and then we have the rail trail and we have ‘pride’ rolling down the river,” said student Martin Fuller, 11.

Friday’s activity set the stage for Persall’s work with students this week.

While the students’ mini-mural will be created on a panel and hung at the school, their ideas will influence the rail trail mural’s design.

“The actual mural that will be downtown, that will be on the rail trail, is being designed by Persall and a committee of townspeople,” Verhoosky said. “It’s one of the main reasons we wanted to do this, we wanted to make this a community project, and we really wanted to be able to incorporate students from every level into the project.”

Art teacher Amy Groberio said students last week brainstormed what images and messages they wanted on their murals.

“Today, they are taking some of those messages and blowing them up big so everyone can see their message,” Groberio said. Two fifth-grade classes are working on the mural, trying to incorporate many ideas into one.

When the mural is done, a river will run through it.

“So, Riverside, we are by the river ... the river is a landmark they wanted to show,” Groberio said.

“We are making a mural about Danvers and all the landmarks in Danvers,” said Kyara Croteau, 11. Why are they making the mural? “To show all the things about Danvers and what Danvers does and what Danvers has.”

“It is pretty cool, I can say that,” said Evan Conti, 11, about the mural that will eventually be hung in the school. His artwork on Friday included drawing “rocks and ducks and fish in the river.”

The Riverside School community is also helping to raise money for the project, called the Danvers Healthy Community Mural Project. Other partners include Lahey Health, the Target Foundation and the Danvers Rotary.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.