There are some plans in the works for a slight makeover at Lake Bluff Elementary over the summer, but the district isn’t bringing in contractors or hiring consultants.
Instead, it's a student-driven renovation that will alter the landscape a bit. And visitors will notice the minute they enter the school.
For the past couple weeks, every Lake Bluff student sketched and molded a clay tile into a work of art — creating some 560 pieces. The hundreds of tiles, along with some other features, will soon replace the glass display cases that coat the archway just inside the school's main entrance.
“Last fall, we just sort of thought about it and planned it over the winter,” said Peder Hegland, a professional potter from Minnesota and the artist-in-residence overseeing the tile project.
Hegland added school staff members including teachers and even custodians also created a clay tile.
Hegland will take those tiles, and in concert with other art pieces, complete the mural. He'll add a water design, bordering and a fish at the top of the archway, symbolizing former Lake Bluff teacher Al Fish who donated the money to make the project possible. Lake Bluff Principal Kirk Juffer and his wife will design the fish. Hegland did a similar project in Atwater Elementary’s cafeteria in 2005.
Kevin Karman, an art teacher at Lake Bluff, oversaw students as they created their clay tiles.
He said each student started by writing their name on a clay tile, then identified six interests and used those interests to sketch drawings into the clay.
"We've got kids who are interested in theater... skateboarding, biking, all kinds of things, so it really varies. Right here, we've got a swimmer," he said as he pointed out a tile with the catchphrase "eat, sleep and swim."
On Friday, as Hegland readied the tiles to be glazed green and fired, some students worked with Karman and parent volunteers to transfer their clay drawings to another piece of clay.
Fifth-grader Ray Oechler went for a mingled design, drawing on several interests.
"I made a crossing violin and bow, and on top of that a paint brush and on the bottom a clarinet," he said. "And, under the violin, there's a book."
While Willa Ricketts, also a fifth-grade student, said since she wants to become a chef and loves to cook, she incorporated different cooking utensils into her tile design.
"I drew a chef's hat and a chef's jacket, and drew different books, because I look to read, and I did an art palette and different notes, because I love to sing," Ricketts said.
Hegland said he will take all of the tiles back to his studio in Minnesota, and over the summer put together the project.
Hopes are the piece will be installed in the archway around the beginning of school, next year. Karman said the district will hold a ceremony upon installation of the project.