In an example of what can happen when schools work together, Ogden Junior Public School has unveiled a new school sign that allowed some of its graduating students to leave their mark.
The sign, which the downtown school’s Grade 6 students created with help from high school students at nearby Oasis Alternative Secondary School, spells out “Ogden” in blue and yellow letters formed out of the shapes of the students’ bodies.
“It’s based on Keith Haring’s style of art and the students also created a documentary of the process,” said Ogden Junior Public School teacher Richard Ng. “It’s a legacy they’ll be leaving behind as they move on to middle school.”
The new sign allows Ogden to spruce up its plain red brick exterior and brings a little life to an area in dire need of a splash of colour.
“This was a way for the students to take action themselves,” Ng said. “We don’t even have a safe, functioning playground at the school and there’s no green space whatsoever around here so this was a way to put our school on the map.”
The project came about through a partnership with Oasis Alternative, a downtown high school that helps at-risk teens who have left the traditional school system reintegrate and complete their education.
Oasis offers a Triangle Program for LGBT youth, the social entrepreneurship-based Oasis Skateboard Factory and the Arts and Social Change Program.
The Ogden sign came about with help from the latter and additional support from Right to Play.
“We do a lot of project-based learning here and what we do in the Arts and Social Change Program goes out into the public, which makes a big difference in keeping our students engaged,” said Oasis Alternative art teacher Lauren Hortie. “For a lot of our students, seeing their work out there keeps them more interested.”
She said Oasis students – many of whom have images that live up to their school’s alternative style – made a real impact on the younger students from Ogden.
“We have students with coloured hair and Mohawks, so for some of the 11-year-olds working on the project, it was like working with someone from outer space,” she said.
Ng said the project, which ran off and on for roughly two weeks, also helped the younger students learn to work with older kids.
Ogden held a special ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 22 to celebrate the installation of the new sign, complete with an airing of the documentary.