Bishop Feild students display art and community pride at third annual exhibition

Stephen Miller/CBC

Bishop Feild Elementary is still closed for repairs, but the turnout at their student art exhibition shows the sense of community is fully intact. 

The displaced students have been taking classes at the former School for the Deaf on Topsail Road, a fair distance from the Bond Street school.

The art show was organized by grade one teacher Laura Winter.  

"It's something we really miss, being we're across town and it's hard for families to see each other and for parents to meet up and chat," Winter said. "Bishop Feild is a community school – very community oriented."

Judging by the Saturday afternoon turnout at the Lantern — a community event centre in the general area of the original school — being together, close to home, is indeed something they miss.

The parents and teachers appeared to be having as much fun as the students.  

"Parents come, grandparents, the kids all get to run around. We've got art from every student in the school on display. We've got a collective mural that I do every year," Winter said. "Every student in the school contributes to it and that really helps with the community spirit as well."

Stephen Miller/CBC

It's been well over two years since students last filled the halls and classrooms of the elementary school. The building has been closed since October of 2017, after a section of the concrete roof in the school's gymnasium collapsed. 

No one was injured in the collapse, and Winter says administrators are hoping to have the building ready for September of this year.

In the meantime, Winter began arranging these art exhibits as a way to keep everyone in touch.

She believes the tight knit nature of the school is what makes it special and she feels getting together becomes increasingly important as the delays drag on. Particularly when no one knows for sure when the school will officially reopen.

"They said December [of 2019] and then in December they told us it would be April. And now just last week they've told us they're hoping for September… but there's no guarantee," Winter said. "So it's hard. It's really had a detrimental effect on our school community."

A team effort

The collective mural was one of the most elaborate pieces on display, with each student involved in some aspect of its creation. It stretched the length of the gymnasium-sized wall at the community centre.

Students Andie Noseworthy, Anna Blackwood and Lily Halley-Green are all in different grades but enjoyed the collaborative nature of the art exhibition.

Stephen Miller/CBC

Halley-Greene helped set up the art exhibition on Saturday and used paint and pastels to make a picture of lily pads. 

"It's fun to run around and see how good other people's art is and to see what they did," Halley-Green said.

The three students were most excited about the mural they had all worked on, which Blackwood explained had a techno-twist.

"I'm really excited about our theme this year, because you get to scan it and then this whole video pops up and it's really cool," Blackwood said.

At various points along the mural, attendees could scan a QR code with their phone camera and an online video starring Bishop Feild students pops up, telling the story which inspired the mural.

The students were all sure to give credit to Winter, for making the whole thing happen.

"Everyone had a part in it," Noseworthy said. "Madame Winter never left anyone out."