J.L. Crowe counsellor Loretta Jones and student and artist Rachel Danczak show off the painting asking students to dig a little deeper when getting to know someone. The piece was hung in the school’s atrium for all students to see and is part of a larger planned art installation at the school depicting the code of conduct in their own words.

Artist paints positive message

Crowe student’s creation unveiled on Pink Shirt Day.

A young artist at J.L. Crowe Secondary School has found a bright and colourful way to leave a lasting positive message for current and future students to see.

Rachel Danzak, following in the footsteps of former students, put together a sizeable piece of art that tries to encourage students to look past rumours and hearsay to get to know an individual before making judgements.

“The quote we chose was, ‘Be curious, not judgemental,’” she said.

“It is about not just listening to what other people say about someone, but instead just going up and talking to them and seeing what they are really like.”

The piece was unveiled in the J.L. Crowe atrium on Wednesday morning at a school-wide assembly to coincide with Pink Shirt Day – the national campaign against bullying in schools, at work and on the Internet.

Before the art project became a reality, the young artist practised what she preaches and has even made new friends.

“I have this one friend that I didn’t really know before,” she said. “I had only heard what other people were saying about him, so I just went up and talked to him. I learned that he is really into cars and he is good at it too.

He is also really funny and now, he is one of my really good friends.”

Even during the creative process, it was all about getting people involved and hearing what others had to say.

“It started with a picture that I had seen on Pinterest,” said Danczak. “I asked my class what quote they wanted and we picked one. While I was actually doing the project, I was always interacting with people who would come into the art room and I would explain the project to them and everyone was really helping me out.”

School counsellor Loretta Jones was instrumental in putting the motivational art project together, but says the message of acceptance is more powerful when it comes from a fellow student.

“The artwork is the student code of conduct in their words,” she said. “Rather than a jumble of words and jargon saying, ‘a student has the right to…’. We have our own way of telling them to play nice, but this was a collaborative effort. They told us what they wanted up there.”

The art is just one piece in a planned series over the next few years to create a welcoming environment for new students down the road.

“I really hope that someone in 10 years sees the message and listens,” said Danzcak, adding that anyone who has a similar idea should take the plunge.”Go for it. It could start small but it can always grow to be something bigger.”

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