Students at Baddeck Academy have butterflies
The once bare central hallway of Baddeck Academy is suddenly aflutter with colour.
The first day back to school this fall, each Baddeck Academy student traced an outline of their hand on a blank piece of paper. That afternoon, and into the evening, Student Advisory Council (SAC) members Debbie Christiano and Tammy Macsween cut out each of the 275 handprints. Over the past month, 45 of these one-of-akind handprints have become part of a growing mural full of butterflies. Like the students they represent, no two are alike.
“You just walk by those butterflies and you feel, okay, that could be my hand. I belong,” said Christiano, a Baddeck Academy alum with two children now attending in grades three and nine.
The butterfly mural project supports one of Baddeck Academy’s 2018 school improvement goals - creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students.
"Our goal is to celebrate student success through positive messaging," said Baddeck Academy Principal Barb Macdonald.
Macsween and Christiano sourced the positive message embedded in the mural: “Like a butterfly, I am growing and changing and finding my true colours in life. I am finding my wings so that I can be on my way and fly and soon be on my way.”
“Maybe you started out as caterpillar, right? But you're going to be able to get your wings, you're going to be able to fly, you're going to be able to grow,” said Christiano. “That’s what students are doing, right? They're finding themselves, finding their way. So, butterflies just seemed like the right fit.”
They had no trouble finding just the right artist to create the design elements for the project.
Transforming people and environments through art is nothing new to Middle River textile artist Nika Feldman. She has done hands-on workshops in India, Nepal and the United States using the artistic process to educate and empower women and girls.
Feldman has spent close to 60 hours over the last month tracing the handprints, one-byone, onto one side of the central hallway. Feldman wanted to use student handprints to create a strong sense of connection with the mural located in the central hallway that all students pass through every day.
“They all know that this is theirs, this is them. They are all up there,” said Feldman after school closing on Oct. 4 while putting finishing touches on the first 45 butterflies.
With Feldman working in 2-3 hours spurts after school hours, students have seen change every day.
“It's always nice to see the stages, as opposed to it just being there and you don't have any connection to it.”
Contingent on available funding, Feldman is scheduled to return next year to complete the second and third phases of the project. She plans to paint the egg, caterpillar (larva) and chrysalis stages of butterfly growth and then trace and paint in the remaining 230 handprints on the opposite wall.
Principal Macdonald doesn’t want to stop with just one mural. Schools are limited in the ways they can adorn their hallways. Due to fire marshal regulations, 80% of wall space must be clear. She says painted murals are just the thing to spruce up a school.
“I've got hundreds of blank canvases in this building when you start to look at the wall space we have here above the wainscoting.”