She’s a senior now, but Natalie was at the beginning of her junior year when she asked UA+Ed for funding so students, especially members of the class of 2021, could turn the high school into an art project. Natalie and her classmates will be the final graduating class from the current high school, and the new high school building will open in the fall of 2021.
This presented a unique opportunity for Natalie and the Class of 2021. Natalie was inspired by a chalk art session two years ago at UA Idea Day, a UA+Ed sponsored event designed to encourage students to take a risk try something new. That session helped Natalie realize that "creating art" can be as important as the finished piece - that it nurtures connections with others and builds community.
With the support of the high school administrative team, Natalie and a group of students invited students to claim a wall, door or other space in the school to create art. They launched Art Take Over (ATO) at the beginning of March 2020. Natalie’s ability to continue this meaningful project during the COVID-19 pandemic has been impressive and inspiring.
As our community was shutting down and our schools began distance learning, the Art Take Over project pivoted. Instead of creating art within the high school, the students worked with the City of Upper Arlington’s Parks and Recreation Department to design a community scavenger hunt. The students created chalk designs around Upper Arlington and encouraged residents to take walks, find the artwork and post pictures on social media.
Next, ATO helped the UA Alumni Association decorate the “home” of the Golden Bears for the 4th of July. The students created an art display in front of the high school - and the mural was honored by the UA Civic Association.
As the 2020-2021 school year began in August with students in distance learning, Natalie and her group met with Superintendent Paul Imhoff, Ed.D., and Principal Andrew Theado to get permission to create art on the outside of the high school to send a message of hope during a challenging time. The students talked about the continuing pandemic and the need to promote health and safety precautions, and they also discussed the racially motivated violence and ensuing anti-racism movement happening in the country and their hopes for peaceful change.
The mural was completed in time to welcome students back to school. The mural will remain visible near the main entrance to the building along Ridgeview Road until crews prepare to demolish the current high school. Take a closer look, and you will begin to understand the amazing passion behind this group of students.
Love Out Loud - in memory of Chris Collaros, the beloved Wickliffe Progressive Elementary principal who passed away in 2019 after a short battle with cancer.
Start with Hello - a program that came from the Sandy Hook Promise. A group of students brought the program to UA to promote empathy and to help end and bring awareness to social isolation.
Be Kind - hearing impared students are valued and included as are students with other disabilities in our community.
Start with Heart • Strength in Team • Contagious Drive - the three core values of the Upper Arlington Schools.
The UA+Ed is proud to support the Art Take Over project.