The beautiful English ivy – an invasive species – that covered the large walls of Rogers elementary school spent years choking out and encroaching on the area’s natural Garry oak ecosystem.
But now the school is fighting back against the ivy: ripping it out and replacing it with murals of Garry oak landscapes.
Last week Saanich council approved two massive murals on the outer walls (each one 62 feet long by 10 feet tall at its highest point) of the school that were formerly covered in ivy.
The walls were power-washed, then painted white like a large canvas, and artist Joanne Thomson, who designed the scene, got to work on the wall almost immediately after council approval.
“The kids have been involved in this. We consulted with them, and parents and staff, and took a vote. And (Joanne’s) working with the kids who will do some drawings and give her those images to import into the final design,” said principal Maryanne Trofimuk.
Later this month or early next, depending on the weather, the school will host a full-day painting event. Every student will have the opportunity to leave the class and participate in painting the mural.
In class the students have been learning about the Garry Oak ecosystem and the importance of natural preservation, Trofimuk said.
“The kids have a lot of awareness of what’s going on, why we’re doing this and how the connection is so strong,” she said.
The first mural, to be done this school year, depicts a detailed Garry oak forest and Christmas Hill. The second mural will feature a forest landscape with the name of the school in large muted colours.
Council needed to OK the mural, as Saanich’s unsightly premises bylaw considers public art – even on private properties – graffiti, unless it’s approved by council or an arts jury.
The school is currently fundraising to help pay for the mural project. Anyone interested in donating to the project is encouraged to contact Trofimuk at 250-727-0188 or firstname.lastname@example.org.