Colourful mural to follow Rideau High students to new school

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Colourful mural to follow Rideau High students to new school

Rideau High School students and teachers have created a colourful and comprehensive wide mural to commemorate their time at the closing school.

It will follow students to their new home at Gloucester High School after Rideau closes at the end of this school year as a memento of its community legacy.

"It started off as a single project to create sort of a representation of the Rideau community," said student teacher Filip Wawrzynczak, who came to Rideau at the start of the school year on practicum from the University of Ottawa.

"And after the news of the school closing, we decided to sort of extend the project to make it into a transition plan between Rideau and Gloucester."

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board voted to close Rideau High School earlier this month, despite pleas from students and their families at public meetings over the winter to keep it open. Most of the students will be moved to Gloucester High School, farther east.

Student teacher Taylor Plakholm, also from the University of Ottawa, said the news left her "upset and sad," but it inspired more students to contribute to the mural, which is a mixed-media collage of paint, photos, sketches and more to represent the diverse makeup of Rideau's student body.

"There was like a silver lining to that, because we came in the day after the vote went through and did photo day," said Plakholm. "So students got to come together, take pictures together, and celebrate Rideau and their school spirit, even in the midst of this very upsetting news."

'Tight-knit, diverse, unique community'

"They felt like it was really important to sort of capture the Rideau community as it is right now so that future generations can look back and see this as a representation of something that was really beautiful," added Wawrzynczak.

Both Plakholm and Wawrzynczak wanted to make the project as accessible as possible for all students, regardless of artistic talent or aspirations, which is why they offered different artistic methods for them to get involved. 

Now that it's complete, the mural will be mounted in the hallway at Rideau until it's time to move to Gloucester. 

Most importantly, the teachers want students to have a piece of the community they've created there with them, and a visual reminder of the mark Rideau High School has left on so many people in Ottawa.

"I instantly fell in love with the community. It is a very tight-knit, diverse, unique community, and I felt like it really needed something to represent its splendour," said Wawrzynczak.