Students at Walnut Hills Elementary now have a very colorful reminder of the building blocks of character every time they walk through the front doors. Artist Doug Applegate worked with students to design and create a new mural as a legacy piece for the building. Applegate is an artist-in-residence at Walnut Hills this year, thanks to a grant from the Waukee Community Schools Foundation.

As a “Leader in Me” school, teachers and administrators talk a lot about certain themes that help students to be successful at school and in the community. Students submitted these themes to Applegate: respect, caring, diversity, togetherness. Applegate is familiar with Walnut Hills, as he already created two other existing murals in the building. He was able to take these themes and input from students to come up with a new design.¬†Walnut Hills Art Teacher Katlyn Scharper said, “Having an artist-in-residence not only provides insight of how the creative process works, but also gives students voice and choice in creating this project.”

Applegate chalked his drawing on the wall, and then students picked up their paintbrushes! Walnut Hills has monthly Passion Clubs to encourage interest in certain activities. Students in the Painting Passion Club got right to work and started to fill in the mural. Applegate and his daughter then followed up to do the more intricate work and finer details. Students in art classes got the chance to observe his work, ask questions, and even get his autograph!

The result is a beautiful piece of art to encourage and inspire students for years to come. Ms. Scharper said “Giving students the opportunity for this hands-on experience with a professional artist helps bridge the gap between their artistic skills used in the art room to the real world.”