New mural at Lutheran school in Westview

To Catonsville mural artist Mark Selby, the side of Emmanuel Lutheran School that faced Craigmont Road was more than just a dull brown wall.

Selby, who attended the Ingleside Avenue school as a second- and third-grader, said "it was very boring."

This week, motorists driving on the road behind the Westview Shopping Center will see a brightly painted wall that is anything but dull and boring.

Aided by the students at the school and donations from area businesses, Selby has converted the wall into a canvas on which are images that reflect the school's mission and diverse population of 90 students.

"It's making us more visible to the community and it's brightening up the community," said Susan Miller, who has been at the school, as a teacher and now as principal, since 1989.

Miller said she and the leaders of the church and school had definite priorities regarding what Selby should paint on the wall.

"We are a Lutheran school, so we did want a picture of Christ," said the Connecticut native. "And we definitely wanted the children to participate."

Selby said he had to keep the design simple and use primary colors, so students in all grades could feel a part of the project.

That participation is evident in the rainbow across the mural. It is made up of the handprints of the adult staff in red, kindergarten students in purple and students in first through eighth grade in green, yellow and pink.

Beneath the image of Jesus Christ and the rainbow are images of students singing, praying, working with a laptop, examining an object with a magnifying glass, paddling a canoe and planting flowers. There are also butterflies, marsh grass and turtles.

"The eighth-graders here are really big on environmental science and they are also really big on singing here," Selby said.

Using standard acrylic latex exterior house paint and painting equipment donated by the Sherwin-Williams paint store on Baltimore National Pike, the school's eighth-graders worked on the images Friday under Selby's direction in preparation for Selby's finishing touches over the weekend.

"Mark came up with a few things. He wanted to show the different things which our school does best, that we are known for," Miller said.

Miller said science teacher Lori Melillo has led the effort that has students working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, raising oysters, terrapin turtles and bay grasses for eventual replanting in the Chesapeake Bay.

"The school has been very supportive and the kids have been great," Selby said.

"I had to organize it around the kids' schedules," he said. "They could only work at certain times of the day, and on certain days of the week."

On Oct. 19, for example, the eighth-graders were only available for an hour in the afternoon before they had to head home.

"There's no time to describe things. They come out and just start rockin' and rollin'," Selby said.

In addition to the 18 gallons and 18 quarts of Sherwin-Williams paint, brushes and other equipment on hand Friday afternoon, Selby said ABC Rental on Geipe Road donated the scaffolding, Cooper Roofing in Baltimore Highlands donated the ladders and Sir Speedy copy center in Woodlawn donated the stencils and printouts for the project.

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