Century School unveils mural

Students, teachers celebrate after battling liability issues

Bent down to one knee, markers in hand, Century School students Monday finally scrawled their monikers on their long-awaited school mural.

The school’s mural, long stalled by bureaucratic red tape, was finally unveiled Monday afternoon as students, teachers and parents rejoiced in a victory over complicated city processes.

“It broke our hearts when it stopped,” art teacher Tim Holtzclaw said of the mural’s delay last year. “We were just about to get over the edge.”

That momentum stalled last August because of liability problems, Holtzclaw said. At the time, the mural was about half finished when liability issues emerged after property owners in the area became nervous about the school’s young children painting from the first landing of scaffolding.

Although Holtzclaw had asked local property owners for permission to paint the mural on the north side of the Vermont Street Station, the school still had to agree to no longer allow kids on the scaffolding to paint.

In addition, the Lawrence Arts Commission rejected the then-proposed project, and it only passed City Commission after commissioners decided to put aside previous permit problems.

Now, some 15 months after the project began, the public got the first official view of the new landmark mural. Following the theme of a Leonardo da Vinci quote, “Everything is connected to everything else,” the mural now stands as an accomplishment for students and a testament to the process teachers and parents took to get it finished.

“We all learned that what we do is connected,” Holtzclaw said. “We’re all connected through the manifestation of our ideas.”

Holtzclaw also said without the ideas and effort of Century School’s kids, the mural would have never come to fruition.

“We exposed our talents,” he said. “I’m really proud of the kids.”

The theme of interconnectedness came about after 11-year-old Dante Colombo picked the quote from an extensive list of ideas. For him, the saying expressed what the mural should be about: Sharing with others.

Monday, Dante shared his thoughts about his teacher.

“We’re very proud of Tim,” he said before the mural’s unveiling. “Yeah, it took a while. But it was worth it.”