Visitors to Ashley Carter’s classroom at Sterling Elementary School have to look closely at the mural on the back wall to recognize all the components.
The mural, created by students in Carter’s art class, is a colorful collection of recycled materials meticulously placed to form its bright imagery.
“Every single student had a hand in that,” Carter said. “Now, I pieced it together. But they made the elements.”
Among the recycled materials are used copies of The Brunswick News, delivered twice a week for free to Sterling Elementary School through the Newspapers in Education program. The NIE program aims to support local teachers by providing them with a learning tool that can use in whatever way they need.
Some teachers use the newspapers to teach grammar or math lessons, while others spark conversations about current events — local, national or worldwide — among their students.
And some teachers, like Carter, use the papers as tools for creativity.
“It was a recycled art project that we did in March,” Carter said. “Everybody painted newspapers. Second- through fourth-grade, they cut the circles for the flowers. And they pieced it together with brass fasteners, that’s what’s holding it together.”
Green grass was created using leftover from a weaving project two years before.
“They glued them down,” Carter said. “The rainbow was old marker lids. The markers were no good, so my fifth graders, they de-lidded the markers and sorted them into color piles.
“And then I had an art club that made the butterflies with milk jugs. They cut out the shape of a butterfly from the milk jug, and it makes them have that wing shape.”
Upon close inspection, viewers will note that the tree is made of power towel holders flattened out and covered in plastic.
When students come to Carter’s class, they’re able to admire their previous work on the wall while working on new creations.
“I didn’t want to throw it away because it was too much work and took much time,” Carter said. “That blackboard was over there, and I asked (Sterling principal Stephen) Brooks if he could move it so we moved it there. So it’s going to stay there for at least a couple of years.”