Lit­tle Ras­cals look to make store­fronts more at­trac­tive

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WATSON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

Mid­dle school­ers in In­dian Head are plan­ning a com­mu­nity project that will change the town for the bet­ter, but they need Charles County’s help to make it a suc­cess.

On Feb. 6, the Gen­eral Small­wood Mid­dle School Des­ti­na­tion Imag­i­na­tion team The Lit­tle Ras­cals pre­sented its project to res­i­dents at a town meet­ing along with their new motto, “Cre­ate Our Com­mu­nity.”

The Lit­tle Ras­cals are a group of sev­enth and eighth grade stu­dents who have de­cided to do the Des­ti­na­tion Imag­i­na­tion Project Out­reach Chal­lenge — find­ing a need within their com­mu­nity and cre­at­ing a project based on that need. The team con­sists of seven mid­dle school­ers: Hunter Paulin, 14; Kritka Oli, 13; Ge­or­gia Gor­don, 14; Anas­ta­sia Scherer, 14; Saniya McIn­tyre, 14; Reilly Denyer, 13; and Anu­jin Nyam­gal­taa, 12.

“Our team has some pretty amaz­ing stuff planned,” said Hunter Paulin, younger brother of Town of In­dian Head Mayor Bran­don Paulin.

Ac­cord­ing to Hunter, the school’s pre­vi­ous teams com­peted in the Fine Arts Chal­lenge of Des­ti­na­tion Imag­i­na­tion for years and have al­ways done very well. How­ever, this year’s team will be putting their own spin on the project.

“Af­ter re­search­ing pos­si­ble needs in the com­mu­nity, we de­cided to fo­cus on our own town of In­dian Head. We all know the town has been work­ing hard to at­tract busi­nesses and fill our vacant build­ings, and bring in busi­nesses. That not only makes the town look good and bet­ter and pro­vides ser vices that we need but also pro­vides jobs for those in the com­mu­nity. We don’t have the money to open up a busi­ness but we may have the means to make our town build­ings look more ap­peal­ing to busi­nesses that do have money,” Hunter Paulin said.

The Lit­tle Ras­cals creat- ed a project called “Cre­ate Our Com­mu­nity” in which they hope to work with lo­cal artists who will paint the store­fronts of vacant build­ings in town. The in­spi­ra­tion for the project came from a town in Bush­mill, Ire­land, where many busi­nesses shut­tered be­cause of the econ­omy. Like the Town of In­dian Head, vacant build­ings sat empty and win­dows were boarded up — giv­ing the town a de­press­ing look.

“The busi­nesses that sur­vived had a hard time bring­ing in cus­tomers be­cause no one wanted to visit the town any­more and new busi­nesses didn’t want to take the risk of com­ing into the town. A group of artists got to­gether to change what is hap­pen­ing to the town. That is what our team wants to do, too,” Oli said.

Oli said the Ras­cals are en­cour­ag­ing artists to vol- un­teer their time to as­sist with the project and fol- low a cer­tain guide­line.

“The art must look re­al­is­tic, as if a passerby would be see­ing in­side a store. Also, we en­cour- age hu­mor in­side of the paint­ing — some­thing sub­tle but in­ter­est­ing,” Oli said. “The twist is that we’ve asked the art- ists to hide a feather in each store­front paint­ing and also we will even­tu­ally add QR codes to the paint­ings which, when scanned, will give an in­ter­est­ing fact about In­dian Head (like a life-size seek-and-find photo). It will en­cour­age more peo­ple to have some fun in our com­mu­nity.”

So far, The Lit­tle Ras­cals have con­tacted the own- ers of vacant prop­er­ties in In­dian Head and are still wait­ing to hear back from the old Su­per Fresh build­ing owner in or­der to pur­sue the project.

“Should we not get a build­ing owner to agree prior to our rib­bon-cut- ting, then we will use the old PNC Bank prop­erty (they have given per­mis­sion to use their park­ing lot). We would rather paint di­rectly on the boards al­ready in place be­cause it will cut down our cost but if we can’t, then we will have the lo­cal artists be­gin paint- ing on ply­wood that we pro­vide. Then, at a later date, if a boarded up owner agrees, we can re­place their old boards with new beau­ti­ful painted store­fronts,” Oli said.

Gor­don spoke about the group’s ideas to fund the project. At 1 p.m. Feb. 25, the ras­cals will hold a “Com­mu­nity Day” event at the old PNC Bank lo­ca­tion. Artists and ven­dors are en­cour­aged to pur­chase a spot for $15 to sell their goods.

“On that day, we will in­vite lo­cal artists, groups and or­ga­ni­za­tions to par­tic­i­pate in our day to show what In­dian Head has to of­fer and show­case what makes In­dian Head a won­der­ful place to live and visit. Dur­ing our event the lo­cal artists will be­gin work on pieces of ply­wood sup­plied to them, the store fronts and boarded-up win­dows,” Gor­don said.

Vice Mayor Ron Si­toula signed up to be the team’s vol­un­teer at the re­gion­als tour­na­ment and Coun­cil­man Cur­tis Smith has agreed to do­nate $250 to their ef­forts, on be­half of In­dian Head’s Park and Recre­ation de­part­ment. The ras­cals are still ac­cept­ing do­na­tions to help fund the project to pur­chase paint, ply­wood and other sup­plies the artists will need to fin­ish the task.

Dur­ing its pre­sen­ta­tion, the team also pre­sented Mayor Bran­don Paulin with a “spe­cial de­signer suit” (cov­er­alls) to wear at the “Cre­ate Our Com­mu­nity Day” event.” A spe­cial booth will be set up at the event to al­low at­ten­dees to do­nate money for an op­por­tu­nity to throw paint at the mayor.

The Des­ti­na­tion Imag­i­na­tion Tour­na­ment will be held March 11 at North Point High School; the Lit­tle Ras­cals will per­form an eight-minute skit about their project. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Wendy Paulin at 240-320-4992 or go to www.face­book.com/CreateOurCom­mu­nity/ on Face­book.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WATSON

The Gen­eral Small­wood Mid­dle School Des­ti­na­tion Imag­i­na­tion team The Lit­tle Ras­cals con­sists of mid­dle school­ers Hunter Paulin, Kritka Oli, Ge­or­gia Gor­don, Anas­ta­sia Scherer, Saniya McIn­tyre, Reilly Denyer and Anu­jin Nyam­gal­taa.

The Gen­eral Small­wood Mid­dle School Des­ti­na­tion Imag­i­na­tion team The Lit­tle Ras­cals present Mayor Bran­don Paulin with a “spe­cial de­signer suit” (cov­er­alls) to wear at the “Cre­ate Our Com­mu­nity” event. At­ten­dees will be able to do­nate money in ex­change for throw­ing paint at the mayor.

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