Shannon Thiesen using a SkyDrive to help paint the upper portion of the mural. (Patrick Penner photo)

Shannon Thiesen using a SkyDrive to help paint the upper portion of the mural. (Patrick Penner photo)

Abbotsford school soon to be home of city’s largest mural

Project of one teacher helped by students, parents, teachers and community

When Abbotsford teacher Shannon Thiesen found out that the mural painted on the side of her school was being torn down, she drew up plans to replace it with the largest mural in the city.

Instead of relaxing during her two months off this summer, Thiesen – a teacher and visual arts specialist at the North Poplar campus of Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts – has been recruiting students, parents, teachers and the general community to help her paint the project.

“We were losing our mural, losing our colour, looking like a jail,” Thiesen said. “I just said, you know, we have to bring our heart back.”

The new geometric mural is over 4000 square feet, covers three walls of the school, and will depict Mt. Baker towering over the agricultural landscapes of the Fraser Valley.

The previous mural had to be torn down over winter break after the school discovered the wood behind the paint was rotting from mould. It was replaced with corrugated metal siding, which looked like “another faceless wall,” Thiesen said.

Wenonah Justin, the Indigenous support worker for the school, said the mural serves as a example of what the “choice school” has to offer.

“People can see it and the community can see it. [It’s] shedding light on the school in a positive way,” she said. “It’s really exciting.”

Integrated arts education combines traditional subjects with the creative arts. The teachers will be incorporating the patterns of the mural into mathematics lessons in fall.

“By choosing geometry, we can actually turn around and use this lesson in September,” Thiesen said. “Every one of the 450 students at North Poplar will be given their own triangle space to paint.”

RELATED: Fraser Valley artists to compete in timed Art Battle

RELATED: Abbotsford arts school puts up poles for peace

Choice schools receive the same funding as any other public school in the province so finding the money for the project was challenging. Thiesen said she fundraised a lot, and money was raised through the school’s annual art show, which sells student creations to help fund the art-supply budget.

Thiesen said school principal AnnaLisa Osterby-Batryn has been supportive throughout the process.

“I was worried. It’s an expensive project,” she said. “My principal said, ‘If you’re going to do it, go for it.’ So then I tripled the size.”

Over 50 people have shown up to help Thiesen paint. She said getting the community involved through a social media campaign has been essential.

“I knew there’s no way that I’d be able to accomplish this in a month, and I really only have a month because I have to go and set my classroom up and get back to school soon.”

Peter Steineckert, who has been participating in the project with his two kids, said Thiesen’s ambition with the mural is remarkable.

“It just shows the type of person she is,” he said. “To give up your summer, I mean, she’s entitled to two months off. She could be doing a million other things.”

Steineckert’s daughter, Anna, who just graduated from the school, said watching the progress as her family drove by inspired her to come paint.

“One day you come here and then the next day when you come back it looks almost completely different because there’s so much more done to it,” she said.

Steineckert said his family was happy to answer Thiesen’s call for help.

“Anything to get dirt under your fingernails or paint on your shirt I think is what we all need once in awhile,” he said. “When we drive by in years, we can go, ‘I remember that summer.’ ”

The project is on track for completion by the second week of August.

Abby Schools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two people were in a vehicle that rolled over on Highway No. 1 near Lickman Road. They are now out of the vehicle. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vehicle rolls over on Highway 1 near Lickman Road in Chilliwack

Two people in SUV at time of collision in westbound lanes

The Oxford Senior Care private care home in Abbotsford is part of a COVID-19 contact-tracing pilot project through the company Vantage. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford care home participates in COVID-19 contact-tracing pilot project

The Oxford Senior Care uses ‘wearables’ to track movements of staff and residents

The Abbotsford board of education said on Tuesday they are satisfied with how students and staff dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic from September to December.
Abbotsford board of education pleased with return to class during COVID-19

District officials thank staff and students for low number of infections and issues during pandemic

The Abbotsford News is looking forward to hearing the stories of some of Abbotsford’s unsung education heroes. (Getty Image)
Who are your Abbotsford education heroes?

We’re looking for stories of people who have gone above and beyond for students

The route of the pink parade. The Record has blackened out the name of the teen. Facebook photo.
Pink-vehicle parade to be held Sunday in support of transgender teen assaulted in Mission

Teen and family to watch parade drive single file along waterfront at 3 p.m., Jan. 17

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

The Delta Hospice Society operates the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care (pictured) and the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner. (The Canadian Press photo)
Fraser Health to evict Delta Hospice Society, open new hospice beds next door

Health authority will serve DHS 30 days’ notice when service agreement expires Feb. 25

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

The Fraser Valley Regional Library board of directors recently finalized its budget. (Black Press Media files)
Fraser Valley Regional Library budget not enough to keep up with booming population

Almost $5 million of books, DVDs, and ebooks to be purchased in 2021

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Most Read