Carver Academy mural dedicated to creating waves of positive waves

FRANKFORD — Hands-on works of art hanging on walls in hallways at G.W. Carver Academy serve as colorful reinforcement for positive action.

Artist John Donato points to one of the many student contributions featured in Carver Academy’s mural project tied to the school’s Positive Action curriculum.

“They take such pride in it,” said Carver Academy school counselor Whitney Price. “This is the hallway they come into in the morning. You could tell, especially the first week or so school they were just looking …”

Monday, Oct. 2 was the official dedication of the project. It was a community-based collaboration of local artist John Donato, grant funding support from Next Gen South and Carver Academy’s staff, administration and students.

The art project at Carver Academy, Indian River School District’s special-purpose/alternative school for students up to 18, tied into the school’s new Positive Action curriculum.

First-graders through high school age participated in the project undertaken for several months during the 2016–17 year.

Carver’s project differed from Mr. Donato’s mural projects at other IRSD schools. Projects at Selbyville and Millsboro middle schools, Phillip Showell Elementary and the Southern Delaware School of the Arts were completed in much less time.

“Being able to work on this mural over the course of a few months was really great because they could go home and process what they saw, come back and say, ‘This is what I want to put right here,” said Mr. Donato. “The best part about it is its diversity in the art work because you have all the different ages working on it.”

Some days flowed better than others.

One of the storytelling sections.

“We all have bad days. Sometimes you have to sort of listen to other people that might steer you back in the right direction,” said Mr. Donato. “When a child would come in and they were having a challenging day, what was it that was actually challenging them? What was it that was making their day even worse? And then it’s sort of get them back on track.”

At some point during the project, all Carver students took part.

The mural project was in a way creative therapy.

“Sometimes we’d have a student come in and they just didn’t feel like participating,” said Ms. Price. “Throughout the course of conversation, we might find out what that student was really angry about was they came from math class and they were really struggling. So many of our students have struggles of one kind or another. This was an area where they all felt successful doing.”

Carver Academy counselor Whitney Price looks on a artist John Donato shows some of the students’ artwork.

Several storytelling boards as well as bookends featuring individual creations are on display throughout the school on Frankford School Road.

“Every one of these books is a completely different piece of art work inspired by a completely different set of situations, skills, ideas and moods,” said Mr. Donato. “So, you are going to get something that is timeless.”

Funding for the project was boosted by a $2,500 grant from The Next Generation of Southern Delaware (Next Gen South), a nonprofit, philanthropic organization based in Georgetown directed by young professionals living and working in Kent and Sussex counties. Carver Academy was one of four grant recipients from 16 applicants.

Ms. Price saluted Next Gen South’s support and Mr. Donato.

“This shows their excitement regarding the importance of not just arts in our public schools but also social and emotional learning,” said Ms. Price. “John was wonderful. The kids responded so well. Honestly, you really went above and beyond. I would give John the Positive Action curriculum material and he would go home. He would do his homework and come back and work in small groups and individually with the kids.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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