Batavia students work together to create mosaic mural
Danielle Dobies is making Batavia beautiful, one school at a time.
In 2015, the mosaic artist worked with H.C. Storm Elementary School families to create a large mosaic mural for the front of the school.
Michelle Bach, art teacher at J.B. Nelson Elementary School, had seen the H.C. Storm School mural and wanted to do something similar at J.B. Nelson.
She had some experience in mosaics, since she and local artist Deborah Ewert had created mosaic art for the school's courtyard.
"I thought it was something that our students could do," said Bach. "And they were involved from the beginning to the end."'
The J.B. Nelson PTO raised funds for the mural through a number of fundraisers, including the school's walkathon.
"Everyone in class drew something for the mural. We did a windmill and a sun," said third-grader Maggie Fornelli. "Then we had an artist, a real artist, come in."
Dobies is a professional artist who not only created the mural for Storm School, but also created a mural for the city of Geneva at 121 S. Third St., sponsored by the Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors organization.
Every student at J.B. Nelson school was invited to create a design for the mural. More than 100 designs were submitted.
Of the 100 designs, 10 were submitted to the artist. She incorporated ideas from those designs into two mural designs for the school to choose from.
Once the design was selected, a layout was set up in the learning center and the students got to work.
"The older kids cut the glass," said Thomas Smeraglinolo. "We put the glass pieces together in little sections."
The students were excited to see the design come together.
"When I saw it, all I could say was, 'I did some of that, I was a part of it,'" added a very proud Sammie Donahue.
The mural was hung on an outside wall near a bench that was dedicated to Ann Rego, a beloved school secretary who passed away suddenly in 2016. She always had a kind word and a smile for everyone who visited the office: students, staff, parents and, yes, newspaper writers.
"It seemed like the perfect location," said Bach, "a peaceful area where students could look at the mural and remember Ann."
The mosaic mural had a formal unveiling at the school's spring social this month.
J.B. Nelson families were there to see the cover drop and the beautiful mural revealed.
"When I saw the mural, I thought, 'Whoa, that's so pretty and awesome,'" said Brooke Berggren, who worked on the sun and the sky.
When reminded that this mosaic mural could be around for future generations to come, she added, "I can always remember that I helped to create it when I was little."
In total 392 children each had a part in a the creation of this beautiful mural. It's a reminder of what kids can do when they work together. It's a gift not only to the school, but to all who view it every day.