Purchase photos

Students' creations brighten school





ELLIS -- Brian White's art students at Ellis High School take their talents beyond canvas to walls and ceilings.

The idea to use artwork as decor began several years ago when a student wanted to display artwork on the ceiling.

White, who is in his sixth year at the school, has added to the brightly painted ceiling tiles since then.

To add even more color to his classroom, students painted "a modern take on masterpieces" on the wall panels under the windows.

From there, student artwork has expanded out into the building with hallway murals.

A train image, painted last year across from White's classroom, depicts the school's tradition as the Railroaders.

This semester, White's advanced art students are installing murals in two of the schools' halls.

The students are responsible for the whole project, which helps them learn project management and resource scheduling, White said.

"It's up to them to figure out how to implement it," he said.

The students came up with the designs, said senior Jacob Callier.

After students came up with a design they liked, they took it to EHS Principal Correy Burton for approval.

Senior Mara Geschwentner said her group picked the hallway outside the music room because it was kind of "blah, (and) the music room always will be the music room."

Most days Brady Jacques joins Geschwentner and Callier in working on the music mural.

Just around the corner from the music room, two first-hour advanced art students, Kaleigh Soneson and Alysha Werth, are working on a mural depicting sports.

Other students are painting a third mural in Breanne Nilhaus' classroom.

Nilhaus said she wanted the family and consumer science logo on the wall because "It's what I teach."

White traced the logo, and some of his students are painting it.

Work on the hall murals began soon after school started, and they hope to finish in nine weeks, Geschwentner said.

Callier, whose hobby is drawing cartoons, likes getting out of the classroom to work on the murals.

"It's an easy class," he said.

Once the design for the music mural was approved, the background area was measured out, and painted white.

It took four coats to cover the orange-gold on the hall walls, Geschwentner said.

White said the students use supplies from his classroom budget, so there's no additional cost for the murals.

The students are leaving their mark on the school.

"It will always be here," Geschwentner said.

"It will still be there when they come back for their 10- or 20-year reunion," White said. "They can bring their kids to see it."

White doesn't expect the project to end any time soon.

"I've got plans for the rest of this," he said of the hall outside his classroom.