Bennett Middle Students Unveil Mural Collection

Bennett

SALISBURY — James M. Bennett Middle School (BMS) art teacher Lavern Harmon revealed this week a collection of murals painted by over 80 students, teachers and parents.

The images span a broad-spectrum of education-related topics and will follow students and teachers to a much anticipated new BMS building, hopefully sometime in the near future.

Covering subjects like “character counts,” “striving towards success,” and the BMS Viking mascot, the mural was painted onto nine wooden panels, which will be installed in the school this month.

“At this point, our walls are extremely plain and boring, painted with beige,” said Harmon. “For those who enter our building, we want them to feel a sense of a warm, inviting and welcoming atmosphere while walking the halls of our school.”

Once a new BMS building is constructed, the panels will be transferred and will likely be one of the only pieces of the old school, along with teachers and staff, to make the transition to the new site.

“I really think it is special … to carry on a legacy at Bennett Middle School,” said Jessica Guns, one of the teachers that helped choose student-submitted mural designs.

The murals, which took nearly a month to complete, were financed through a $2,000 Toolbox for Education grant from Lowe’s, who also helped select and deliver the supplies needed. Harmon was enthusiastic in praising the company for its involvement in educational efforts.

In a release issued by the company, Lowe’s acknowledged the need for community outreach programs like the murals at BMS.

“Through our Toolbox for Education grant program, Lowe’s recognizes parent-initiated efforts to enrich the lives of children in our communities,” said Larry D. Stone, chairman of Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “By supporting schools like Bennett Middle School, we believe we are contributing to a cause that’s important to our customers and employees and helping build a stronger foundation for the children who will be tomorrow’s employees, homeowners and community leaders.”

Wicomico County Board of Education member Carolyn Elmore, who was on hand for the unveiling of the mural panels, said that the initiative Harmon showed in searching out and securing the Toolbox grant as well as the groundswell of support from teachers, parents and students is exactly what the Wicomico school system needs.

“I really feel blessed by the faculty and staff here at BMS,” she said. “They are trying to make this a welcoming place.”

“We’re just impressed,” Elmore added.

BMS Principal Lisa Hasting also commented on the impact the mural will have on the current BMS, which has seen several decades of use and is showing its age.

“They are really trying to beautify the building,” she said.

While discussion regarding a brand new BMS being constructed has been on the table for years, ground has yet to be broken and no definite timeline has been adopted.

Funding issues have put the project in limbo and with the budget looking bleak so far this year, progress toward a new building in 2012 is up in the air.

But Hasting and Harmon both expressed optimism that a fresh Bennett building is only a matter of time and that the murals will serve as a link between the old property and the new.

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