A wall on Laburnum Avenue near Robert Bateman Secondary School is going to be turned into a nature-themed memorial mural.Students and teachers plan to start painting it on May 11.

A wall on Laburnum Avenue near Robert Bateman Secondary School is going to be turned into a nature-themed memorial mural.Students and teachers plan to start painting it on May 11.

Memorial wall near Bateman to be transformed

Staff and students from Abbotsford's Robert Bateman Secondary School will create a nature-themed memorial mural.

Students and teachers from Robert Bateman Secondary School, along with community volunteers have joined forces to create a new public mural.

A large wall on Laburnum Avenue (down the road from RBSS, by Palfy Park) will be transformed into a symbol for those who have been lost, and as an artistic celebration of nature.

Bateman fine arts teacher Sherry Dunn came up with the idea, which began in 2011. After the successful completion of a parking lot mural by Bateman students using stencils, the wall became the logical choice for a new piece of art.

Dunn thought it would be the perfect place for a nature-themed mural that celebrated some of the school’s achievements.

Often used for graffiti, the wall was an ongoing issue for the city and the Bateman Community Association. Dunn realized by working together, the mural project would be a success.

But some difficulties occurred.

Dunn was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to hand off or delay much of the project as she regained her health.

While the project continued to move forward, at a slower pace, tragedy struck the school in December of 2011.

Bateman student Cheryl McCormack passed away after using ecstasy, and her classmates claimed the wall as their own.

“The kids used the wall as a memorial and when I saw that, I thought I really don’t want to be the person to paint over that,” said Dunn.

But then she had a new idea. Dunn knew that other students had been memorialized on the wall in the past.

“Why don’t we do a sanctioned memorial to all of the students we’ve lost?”

Dunn first spoke to the McCormack family and asked what they thought, and what Cheryl’s favourite animal was.

It was a deer.

The same questions were asked of the other families until Dunn had a list of animals and birds that would represent those who had passed.

In all, there are seven memorials (six students and one teacher) that will be incorporated into the mural.

Dunn said at first, many students were unhappy that the previous memorials were going to be painted over.

“Then they started to see that it was going to be something really beautiful and something that would be there for a much longer time and there was an opportunity for everyone to be involved in the process of creating it,” said Dunn.

On May 11, a special paint day is scheduled to take place as volunteers come together to transform the first portion of the wall.

The event runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and stencils will be used to ensure a smooth and precise application process.

The school is looking for volunteers to get involved. No experience is required. Contact Jeanne at batemancommunity@gmail.com.

For more information, visit www.theirwall.com.