To different people, the word “legacy” can entail different things, but ultimately, it means one thing: that which one leaves behind.
Students at Folly Quarter Middle School in Ellicott City have been hard at work at their own legacy — a colorful, brilliant one — which they put the finishing touches on this week.
A glass mosaic, constructed during a weeklong artist-in-residence program earlier this month, set to be officially revealed later this spring, had its finishing touches applied painstakingly by dozens of young hands Thursday, Feb. 21, as students helped artist Carien Quiroga grout the four-panel piece.
“This is going to be here so long,” said Ada Beams, 12, a sixth-grader. “You’re leaving behind your memories, something you’ve done. So when you can come back, you have all this nostalgia.”
During art classes and after-school programs for a week at the beginning of February, the students collected ideas and drawings, voted on what would make it into the mural, and cut the glass pieces and assembled them under Quiroga’s instruction.
Beams and fellow sixth-grader Zachary Chiacchierini, 12, can point out what portions of the murals they assembled.
“This has been really time-consuming, but really fun,” Zachary said,
Students who participated in the after-school program each have an embossed silver circle in the mural they designed themselves.
“This is something everyone should feel a part of,” Ada said. “This is a bonding thing, with everything working together.”
The silver circles adorn a globe in one panel — a globe held by a hand wearing a Folly Quarter bracelet.
The mosaic includes elements of Folly Quarter — like the soaring falcon mascot — and western Howard County, like a barn and silo. At the center is a tree.
“That was the one thing I wanted on here, a tree,” said art teacher Theresa Fauth. “We’re in middle school, and we’re growing, blossoming.”
Fauth and the PTA began talking about the possibility of bringing a mural artist to the school for the 10th anniversary “about three years ago.”
“We wanted something like a mosaic,” she said. “We have few little ones throughout the school already, and we thought this would be a nice, long-lasting reflection of our students.”
The mirrored glass pieces will literally reflect the light in the school. When the mural is revealed (probably in May, Fauth said), it will be hung in the school’s main stairwell in the front of the building — a stairwell filled with large windows.
A $1,900 grant from the Howard County Arts Council paid for about a third of the effort, said PTA member and past cultural program chair Rita Morsberger, and the rest was raised through fundraising. Without the grant, Morsberger said she would have been reluctant to justify spending a large portion of the cultural arts budget on one program. But this, she said, was a program that “truly touched a lot of students.”
Fauth agreed — these students "dove into the project," and came together as a group to create something beautiful.
“It was community effort, and to do something as a big group can be a big challenge for them,” she said. “But, everybody said, ‘what can we do as a team?’ … It’s been an exciting adventure.”