How do you illustrate a community? At École Alvin Buckwold School a stunning mural by artist Kevin Peeace uses bright colours to share the story of the school's diverse community and its 50 years of providing inspiring learning to students.
The mural located in the school's main foyer was painted during February and March but planning started in the fall of 2016 with the goal of creating a focal point in the building while honouring the school's story and the bond between students and staff.
Principal Jennifer Haywood says the opportunity to connect with Peeace helped bring focus to the project and the preparation and design work for the mural drew inspiration and ideas from a variety of sources.
"It was definitely a conversation that lasted from start to finish. He came in and we started talking about what we wanted it to represent. We wanted it to represent everything that meant Alvin Buckwold -- our history, who we are now, and what our population is like," Haywood said.
The mural is done in Peeace's distinctive style and contains elements that are familiar to his works, but the components that comprise the overall image illustrate the story of the school's goals, its history and its community.
"The big school at the base represents the foundation," Haywood explained. "The school is all the work that we are building in these students. It happens here -- that is the foundation -- which is why it is at the bottom and the kids are standing on top of it. We talk a lot about adults working with children and the co-operative teamwork so that is why they are holding hands. To us, respect is shown in the picture, responsibility in they are taking care of each other and the co-operation piece is also within the work."
The image of an adult joining hands in caring for children also pays tribute to the work of Dr. Alvin Buckwold, the school's namesake and a prominent Saskatoon paediatrician, and his commitment to children.
The mural illustrates the work of the school and school division in providing culturally responsive education and the way in which it is an important part of learning for all students.
"You will see the tipi with the Metis emblem," Haywood said. "That was to honour the land, the Treaty 6 land that we are on, but we didn't want it to be token. It is embedded into the school and Kevin tried to use the colours that he painted the school in the tipi and within the Metis symbol."
The inclusion of the Earth as part of the image does double duty in terms of significance, highlighting how the school's students come from many countries but also how their learning at Alvin Buckwold is preparing them for what they will experience as they venture out into the wider community and world.
The presence of the school's original logo is a nod to its past, and Alvin Buckwold's role as one of the division's French immersion schools, a more recent aspect of its history, is also acknowledged.
The painting of the mural took place over several weeks and students, parents and staff were able to chart the progress of the work and draw inspiration from Peeace and his style of art.
"There was lots of buzz and talk among the students. It was neat having him in-house because they got to see the process involved and see what had been added and the work going on. Sometimes he was here during the day so you could see him working. One of the classes did their own art project, they looked at some of Kevin's other work and they did their own display," Haywood said.
The mural, which was paid for through fundraising, is the latest of three that have graced the location at the end of the school's main foyer during its 50-year history. The first was a tile mural that paid tribute to the work of Dr. Buckwold while the second was a student creation that was in place for only a few years.
The benches that surround the mural have made it a natural meeting place, both during and after the school day, according to Haywood.
"Parents gather there at the end of the day," she said. "Students can still sit there, but it is more of a gathering point, a social station. The response has been really positive, lots of good feedback from the parents. They like the brightness when they come in -- they see it and feel it and they like what it represents. Hopefully it will be something that will stand the test of time, like the original."