Parent project beautifies school, celebrates community

St Joseph's Primary, Enfield parent and artist Tanya Bechara and students Jason Shin, 6 and Mikayla Spinnato, 7, working on the school’s mural project. 3 June, 2016. Photo: Gene Ramirez

St Joseph’s Primary Enfield parent and artist Tanya Bechara and students Jason Shin, 6, and Mikayla Spinnato, 7, work on the school’s mural project. Photo: Gene Ramirez

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary Enfield parents have led a project to transform a bare brick wall in the playground into a colourful reminder of the school’s vibrant and welcoming community.

Parent and ceramic artist Tanya Bechara, whose daughter Emily is in Year 4 at the school, designed the mural. It features individual figures made of an aluminium composite stronger than perspex – one painted by each of the school’s 514 students – mounted on the wall in a rounded, linear formation.

More than 20 parent volunteers have lent their support and supervised each class group as they have painted their part of the mural.

Principal Maria Maiorana said the project began after a Parents & Friends meeting where parents discussed how to enhance the wall space.

“The conversation went to a mural and that maybe it could represent the families that come together and the real community spirit that’s alive in our school, because that’s something that everyone talks about – that we have such a vibrant community,” she said.

“The other thing this is doing is getting the skills of our parents into the school. We wouldn’t be able to do this without them. Everybody has an opportunity to be involved. That’s what is special about this community.”

Tanya said the project was a departure from her ceramic work and had been on a much bigger scale to her previous projects including small workshops for students.

“I’ve gone from small classes at home of six to eight students to up to 90 students, obviously with lots of help, so it’s been great,” she said.  “There were a lot of logistics to work out because we couldn’t have 514 children scaling a wall that is five metres high to paint.

“The feedback I’ve got from all of the parents and children has been phenomenal.

“My daughter said a lot of students had said to her they weren’t looking forward to it, and afterwards they said it was so much fun. It blew me away how much help we had from families. On average there were 10 or 11 parents every class [for 19 classes] who came to help.”

“We’ve bought very little for the project except for paint and paintbrushes. Everything has been recycled. There has been very little waste. We’ve only used one set of paintbrushes throughout the whole project.”

Grandmother Sue Hulands travelled from Oldbar, a rural coastal village near Taree to see the project take shape.

“It’s always a pleasure to come to the school,” she said. “You’d do anything for your grandchildren and there’s also a welcoming feel to the school.

“I’ve been here many times over the past few years but it’s really great to see the kids so involved and so many dedicated parents and helpers.”


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