Artists who worked on the design of the “Blazing Trails” mural at Graydon Sealy Secondary School pose with Minister of Education, Kay McConney (fourth from right); Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw (centre); Director of Education Reform, Dr. Idamay Denny (second from left); and Education Officer (Arts), Dr. Denise Charles (second from right). The four artists are: Kwame Hunte (left); Nikolai Charles (third left); Don Small (third from right) and Sheri Nicholls (right). (GP)

The decision to beautify schools across the island with works designed and painted by local artists is a commitment by the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training to showcase their talent and leverage the importance of art to national development.

Education Minister, Kay McConney, emphasised this yesterday as the Graydon Sealy Secondary School unveiled a mural designed by four of the island’s top artists and bearing the likeness of some former students and principals of the Paddock Road, St. Michael institution.

While pointing out that over the past three years the Ministry had installed a number of murals at primary, secondary and special schools, Minister McConney told the faculty and students: “The aim is that across all of our schools that we would have the same kind of representation of the arts where we see it ‘come alive’.

“We wish to create a space for the celebration of our achievements as a nation; to communicate our stories which would inspire young people like you to design spaces which will contribute to the positive feelings and the positive spirit through the physical beautification of our school plants.”

Commending the artists involved, she noted that the celebration of art and artists, through the school mural projects, further underscored the Education Ministry’s own understanding of the role which the creative sector must play in national development.

She reminded those present that this sector was hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and stressed that many creatives and cultural practitioners had been forced to function without a secure income during the times of lockdown and national pause.

“Yet, despite these difficult times, we have witnessed many of our artists and entertainers emerge stronger in their craft and stronger in their work. They are indeed, through this mural and many others, a representation of resilience in our community,” she remarked.

The artists who worked on the design were Kwami Hunte, Nikolai Charles, Sheri Nicholls, and Don Small.

The new mural at the Graydon Sealy Secondary School, created under the theme ‘Blazing Trails’ shows several stalwarts of the school including the first principal of the school, Graydon Sealy; another principal, Matthew Farley; former West Indies cricketer, Dwain Smith, as well as former students/artistes “Chrissy D” and “Lil Rick”. (GP)

Of the mural, unveiled under the theme “Blazing Trails”, Minister McConney said it was “a signature opportunity for all to reflect and be refreshed” by the images and the excellence represented in it. 

Stating that murals, the world over, were used to tell stories at the institutional, community and national level, she said they often spoke to historic occurrences and captured scenes of identity, unity, progress and resilience of the human spirit.

Noting that the Ministry was aware of the role colour and aesthetics of the built environment played in setting the tone for learning and positive development, she stressed her Ministry also acknowledged the role social and emotional learning played in education. 

“The Ministry of Education’s Schools Beautification Programme is therefore aimed at securing quality learning environments, where colour, layout, design and installation of murals, work together to enhance a positive feeling and spirit and ethos of the school,” said Ms. McConney.

While also stating it was important that schools maintain systems for the ongoing beautification of the physical plant, she urged students to play a significant role in ensuring these systems reflected, among others, no littering, the upkeep of classrooms in a positive way and colourful spaces for the facilitation of learning”.

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