Fruit Street students create art for HOPE

Posted April 23, 2009, at 10:41 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Students in Wendy Libby’s art program at Fruit Street School “HOPE” that President Obama will take their wishes to heart.

As part of the 15th annual HOPE — Help Organize Peace Earthwide — Festival, set for Saturday at the University of Maine campus in Orono, the elementary school students created a collage and wrote letters about some of the things they hope their new president will do.

Their work will become part of the festival’s Wall of Hope, a large banner that festival organizers plan to send to the nation’s 44th president, likely with members of Maine’s congressional delegation, Libby said in a recent interview.

Libby said she decided to get her students involved in the mural project about two months ago, after receiving a telephone call from Emma Macaillen of Bangor, grandmother of a Fruit Street School pupil and a festival organizer.

“What was so nice about this was that we could talk about [the art project] and relate it to their lives,” said Libby, who often gets her students involved in community activities.

The fact that the president could get to see it also was appealing.

“Of course, the children really loved that idea,” Libby said.

Over several weeks, the pupils created a large collage using thousands of bits of colored paper and key words clipped from magazines. The snippets of color were arranged to spell “HOPE” against a colored background made by daubing paint onto it with sponges, bits of carpet and other textured material.

The students also wrote the president letters, including one from a first-grade class in which the youngsters urge the president to try to bring U.S. troops back from war, reduce fuel costs “so we can go places,” and help families obtain medicine and health care and remain in their homes.

“We HOPE that you will listen to what we HOPE for!” the class wrote.

The HOPE Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in UM’s Student Fitness and Recreation Center in Orono.

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