Teacher Aaron Belding with his Grade 11 and 12 students. CYNTHIA ROBERTS

BY CYNTHIA ROBERTS
Special to the VOICE

The Pelham Beautification Committee has recognized E. L. Crossley Secondary School for its beautification initiatives in two programs —Green Industries and Visual Arts.

Aaron Belding, Green Industries teacher and his class of Grade 11 and 12 students took on the assignment of beautifying the southwest corner of the new turf field at the Highway 20 campus. What was once a barren corner of grass, weeds and overgrown shrubs is now a visually attractive, large garden with a retaining wall and several perennial plants, including Yarrow, Black Eye Susan, Ferns, Thyme and Cone Flower.

“The assignment started the second week of September,” said Belding, “with students digging up the project area, building a retaining wall, as well as designing and planning the floral arrangements.”

The project came to fruition the first week in November, under the watchful eye of their teacher.

“The plant material, although picked over this late time in the season, was chosen for the school colours and for the spring to fall interest,” said Belding.

Owen Metler, a Grade 12B student and aspiring landscaper, said, “I’m enjoying the Green Industries program because I plan on attending Niagara College next year in the Horticulture program, possibly in Greenhouse Technology or Hydroponics. This garden project was interesting because I enjoy keeping things alive.”

Another grade 12B student, Aiden Macrae, said, “I’m enjoying the Green Industries program and this project in particular because I like making the school look better.”

Visual Arts is the second Crossley program to receive accolades from the Pelham Beautification Committee. Town staff approached Sherry Wilkinson, Visual Arts teacher, earlier this year to paint a mural dedicated to Marlene Stewart-Streit, located at the park named for her in Fonthill.

From left, students Rachel Moskalyk and Natalie Anderson, with teacher Sherry Wilksinson. SUPPLIED

“I put out a call,” said Wilkinson, “and six art students enthusiastically took up the challenge. The project started with a lot of research into Marlene’s golf career, including students picking over photos that best depict Marlene for the purpose of re-creating her on a mural.”

Wilkinson said that the monochromatic painting creates a nostalgic feel that best portrays an historical figure.

The painting took 36 hours to complete this past summer during the worst weather conditions possible.

“It was either sweltering heat or torrential rain,” recalled Wilkinson. “Fortunately Town staff provided a tent to keep the artists out of the elements.”

Rachel Moskalyk, one of the art students also worked as a lifeguard at Marlene Stewart-Streit Park, helped with the project.

“When I finished lifeguarding I would step over to the building and join the other artists,” Moskalyk said. “It was great working with other art students and bouncing off ideas to create the finished product.” Moskalyk aims to attend a university art program where she plans to obtain a PhD.

Natalie Anderson is heading off in another direction, with biomedical science in mind. Both students were excited to be a part of this project.

“The local people know of Marlene Stewart-Streit as an iconic person and we were honoured and flattered to be a part of this amazing project,” said Anderson.

The unveiling took place on July 20, with Stewart-Streit attending via zoom call. Her sister, Dolly Smith, attended the ceremony as well. Additional art students who worked on the project included Gwen Cudmore, Hannah Horton, Emily Shatford, and Trinity Young.

Crossley Principal Janice Sargeant said she was proud that students and staff were recognized by the Beautification Committee.

“I believe that a school should contribute to the community and both of these projects do just that,” said Sargeant. “It was great watching the transformation as students worked together planning, planting, painting, and in the end creating beautiful works of art and nature.”

The Pelham Beautification Committee will name a recipient each month. Individuals are encouraged to submit potential recipient recommendations to the Pelham Beautification Committee at [email protected]