A walk down the hallway at Conant High School in Jaffrey doesn’t feature your typical school-day scenery, marked by beige walls and humming fluorescent lights. It’s more like a walk through an impromptu gallery, colorful designs decorating every locker along the walls.
That’s all thanks to Anna Rizzitano’s Studio in Art 1 class, which has been working to transform the lockers since the first week of school. The project began when first-year Principal Brett Blanchard approached Rizzitano’s class about designing a mural for the building, she said.
“It was just such a great speech that he gave about how powerful the arts are and how awesome (they are), and then all of a sudden the students were just coming up with ideas themselves,” Rizzitano said. “So really it was the kids that kind of were like, ‘We could give you a mural in your office, but wouldn’t it be grand if we could paint the lockers?’ ”
Rizzitano agreed to make the murals the focus of the class for the semester, and the students launched into creating their designs.
“We really wanted — and I really put emphasis on this — we wanted to just do students’ designs. A lot of the kids created designs that they thought were really unique for them,” Rizzitano said. “So they would paint these little mini swatches, and we would just go through the swatches and see which ones that we felt were going to be successful on each locker.”
Some of the lockers were designed to represent an academic subject, such as math, science or English, but the sources of inspiration were wide-ranging, from a tribute to the high school’s mascot (the oriole) to a Star Wars-themed design.
And though the class ended with the new semester in January, the students are still working on the murals during their flex time — time scheduled during the day that students can use for “enrichment” activities, including study time, tutoring, course offerings and physical fitness.
In fact, Rizzitano decided to use flex time to open up the project to the student body, inviting other students to come and help with the painting. So far, they’ve finished painting all the lockers on the first floor of the high school and are about halfway done with the second floor, Rizzitano said.
For her students, the project has been an opportunity to paint on a large scale — something they don’t always get the chance to do — as well as share their art with the community.
“They’ve grown as artists, and they kind of own their art, and they’re very proud of it, and I like that,” Rizzitano said. “I think it takes courage to put your own art up on the wall knowing that it could be received good or bad, who knows.”
And it’s been a positive change for the rest of the Conant community, too.
“Now it’s just popping with color, vibrant — it’s got life in the hallway,” she said. “It’s taken on a personality, if you will.”
Submissions are now open for the first annual Magnify Voices Film and Writing Contest. The contest is open to 5th- through 12th-graders, and invites young Granite Staters to submit two-minute videos or creative writing pieces centering on mental health.
Students can choose from five themes related to mental health: 5 Things I/We Wish People Knew About Mental Health; No Shame: Erase The Stigma; This Is How I/We R.E.A.C.T. (Recognize the Signs, Express Concern, Act Now, Care, Text for Help); S.O.S. (Stamp Out Stress): Coping Skills and Self Care; or create your own theme.
The first-place student or group of students in each category will receive a cash prize of $500. Middle and high school submissions will be judged separately.
The contest is sponsored by the N.H. Children’s Behavioral Health Collaborative. Submissions are due March 1, and additional information is available at magnifyvoices.org.
Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in engineering can apply for the new Norman F. and Marilyn W. Jones Scholarship. More than $100,000 will be awarded annually to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors studying electrical, aeronautical and mechanical engineering and related fields.
The multi-year scholarship is awarded by the N.H. Charitable Foundation and recognizes students who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership potential, passion for the field and financial need. The amount of each scholarship will vary depending on need and the number of applicants.
Applications must be submitted by April 12 at 5 p.m. through the foundation’s online scholarship application portal at https://nhcf.scholarships.ngwebsolutions.com. Finalists will be required to attend an interview and give a presentation to a committee of industry professionals.
The Monadnock Regional High School Wellness Committee will host a free presentation for parents at the high school titled “Risky Business: Defend our Youth, Empower our Parents, Educate our Educators” on Feb. 7 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Using a staged teenage bedroom, the presentation will teach parents how to recognize warning signs of risky behaviors such as drug use and underage drinking. Attendees will also learn techniques for communicating with teenagers and receive information about drug and alcohol use trends.
The presentation will be led by Melissa Fernald, a licensed clinical social worker and master licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Child care will be provided by the Monadnock Regional High School Key Club.