Nearly 50 students were occupied after school Wednesday in the art wing of Catonsville High School breaking, glazing, painting and gluing brightly painted clay tiles to create a 50-foot wide mosaic.
The project is a schoolwide effort led by the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) and Student Sharing, two clubs at the school.
It started with a drawing, done by NAHS president Riley Goodman, a senior, who won a contest at the school. The design will replace one at the tennis courts that was vandalized in the rear of the school.
His red, orange, blue, yellow and purple design that reads, 'Blazing a Path to the Future: CHS,' was chosen over others done in colored pencil in the contest.
"I never expected that doing this drawing would lead to all this hard work," Goodman said.
Members of Student Sharing, a community service club at the school, are using the project as a fundraiser. Panels can be sponsored for $10, which will be donated to John's Hopkins Children's Center and a school in Nicaragua called the Peace Project.
Because it was his design, Goodman led the effort to turn his drawing into a massive mosaic, composed of clay tiles hot glued to mesh panels.
The process has been lengthy and began last spring. The design has been traced onto the 60 different panels that will form the mosaic.
Clay tiles are painted with a colored glaze, then fired in a kiln and broken. The broken pieces of tile are then glued to the panels, which have been labeled by color and made of mesh and paper.
Once the panels are finished, they will be professionally installed and adhered to the wall of the tennis courts that can be seen from South Rolling Road.
The effort has drawn students and teachers from across the school to volunteer their time to meet the goal of completing the project by May.
"I don't think this kind of thing could get done without their dedication," said Windy Spiridigliozzi, an art teacher who has overseen the project. "The students are great."
On Wednesday, with 45 panels finished, the students had completed 75 percent of the project, Goodman said.
Students are asked to help out with the project after school from 3 to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. However, Goodman and a group of friends have been working on the project almost every day, he said.
Jessica Voss, an art teacher at the school, hot glued blue clay tiles to one of the panels on Wednesday after school with school nurse Curt Milnes.
"I always stop in and help out if I have extra time after school," Voss said.
Goodman said he liked the sponsorship effort on the project by Student Sharing.
"I think it's cool that we're getting other groups involved – it's not just NAHS," Goodman said. "People have told me they're scared to come to the art wing – it's kind of separated from the rest of the building, but once they come in here, it's a very fun, welcoming environment," Goodman said.
Students said the project has brought the school together.
"Really, when we have a final product, it's going to be a lot more than just a mosaic. It's going to be a symbol that kids from Catonsville can come together and make a huge art project that helps kids both in the hospital in Baltimore and all over the world," said Fiona Cavanagh, a senior and vice president of NAHS.
Watching the project come together has been the most rewarding part, Goodman said.
"My favorite aspect is seeing it from start to finish," Goodman said. "It's really humbling, because it almost gives you a sense of all this hard work that you're putting in. You see it all come together and it makes sense."