School notebook:

Jefferson students paint playground

THE WEDGE – If you’re hunting for the best vantage point from which to take in Jefferson Community School’s new mural, Hennepin Avenue is OK.

The top floor of a nearby apartment building would be better. But an airplane would be best.

The 21,000-square-foot "aerial mural" was painted over Jefferson’s blacktop playground at the corner of Hennepin Avenue and 26th Street. Students began painting in May under the direction of muralist Elissa Cedarleaf Dahl.

"By the end of it, all the kids will have an opportunity to contribute," Cedarleaf Dahl said.

Students helped design the mural, which includes the sun and four views of Earth. Two of the hemispheres show the planet’s polar regions, which students studied this year in a unit on global warming.

The mural also incorporates a four-square court, two softball diamonds, a basketball court and marks for a 50-yard dash. Cedarleaf Dahl said the design was intended to "encourage interaction and movement."

The artist has painted two other murals at Jefferson, one in a first-floor hallway and another in the school’s gymnasium. Other works by Cedarleaf Dahl cover walls at the Midtown Global Market on East Lake Street and the Catholic Charities Branch III center in the Elliot Park neighborhood.

Valspar, Diamond Vogel Paints and Minneapolis Public Schools donated paint for the mural.

"I’m hoping it’s kind of an addition to Uptown, as well as an addition to Jefferson," she said.

Schools make peace pledge

BRYN MAWR – Students from Bryn Mawr’s three neighborhood schools joined together May 29 in a ceremony to promote peace.

The shared campus of Bryn Mawr Community School, Park View Montessori and Anwatin Middle School was declared an International Peace Site in the ceremony, which brought together about 1,000 students from all three schools. Students dedicated a "peace pole" adorned with the words "May peace prevail on earth" written in various languages.

The peace site program is sponsored by World Citizen, a St. Paul-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting peace education. Since the first peace site was dedicated at a Twin Cities school in 1988, hundreds more peace poles have been planted around the world.

Mural illustrates schools’ diversity

DOWNTOWN – The diverse faces of Minneapolis Public Schools will be on display this summer in a new Downtown public art project installed June 8 on the second floor of the Stimson Building, 700 Hennepin Ave.

Minneapolis photographer Norbert Marklin created the photographic mural, "Many Views, One Vision," by combining the profiles of 30 Minneapolis school children from diverse backgrounds. The students pictured include immigrants from Tibet, Bosnia, Somalia,

Kuwait and other countries, as well as native-born students.

Marklin said he was inspired to create the piece after learning over 80 languages were spoken in Minneapolis Public Schools. After English, the most commonly spoken are Spanish, Somali and Hmong.

Kristina Robertson of the district’s Multicultural Multilingual Office said the mural was "a visual reminder of what the different children look like and what they bring to our education work."

Robertson said immigration to Minnesota in the late 1990s dramatically increased diversity in the public school system.

Marklin photographed the students last school year during visits to Anishinabe Academy, Marcy Open School and Seward Montessori School. The project was supported by a grant from the FORECAST Public Artworks organization in St. Paul.

The image will remain on display throughout the summer while the Stimson Building – also home to the Pantages Theatre – undergoes renovation.

Later, Marklin and district officials hope to install a permanent version in the district’s Multicultural/Multilingual Department.

Robertson said there are tentative plans to use the image to market district programs for English language learners, including producing the image as a poster.

"I want to make coffee cups [with the picture on them]," she said.

Reach Dylan Thomas at [email protected] or 436-4391.