Little Rascals look to make storefronts more attractive
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.
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.