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Country’s largest mural in a rural setting

By Staff | Jun 3, 2014

Student painters anchored each end of a ribbon while mural artist Jon Laidecker made the cut during a ceremony held a Warrior Run Middle School on May 28. The backdrop is a portion of the six panel mural on the exterior of the auditorium.

TURBOTVILLE – Shadows of individuals lengthened to touch the six panel mural covering 6,875 square feet during the ribbon cutting ceremony at Warrior Run Middle School on Wednesday evening, May 28. In some way, these individuals and hundreds more, touched the project and had a hand in the outcome of what has been deemed, “The country’s largest mural in a rural setting.”

Those pictured include Roger Smith of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Amy Reed of the Perry County Council on the Arts. Involved in the project are mural artist Jon Laidecker, art teacher Joel Ryder from Warrior Run High School and curriculum, director Bernadette Boerkel. Smith said, “This project was four years in the making, and now six magical walls unite the past and the present.”

Boerkel said, “More than 600 persons had a hands-on involvement during the process with students ranging from kindergarten through twelfth grade.”

Eleventh grade student Laura Kessler, daughter of Millie and Alan Kessler of Watsontown, was one of four students randomally pulled from the crowd. She is pictured on the left holding the ribbon. Kessler said of her experience, “Each Friday, our class took turns going to the art room to paint. The canvases hung on the walls and a color assigned to us matched a number on the mural. There was a small picture identifying what part we did allowing us to visualize the final result.”

Coinciding with the ceremony, an art show was held in the school’s hallways. It featured student works plus a few paintings by local wildlife artist Ken Hunter, who also attended the ceremony. Of the mural Hunter said, “It’s a showpiece; when I drive by I think, ‘Wow!’ ” The former school’s history teacher said, “We’ve always thought of Warrior Run as a little school between corn fields; this really puts us on the map. It’s a refreshing change to hear good news regarding schools and students.”

Early on in the project, Hunter had been invited to the art room to witness the process. “I was amazed to learn of the number of persons helping. It gives them pride, respect and ownership in this work,” he said.

Coming to fruition is the dream shared by two Warrior Run graduates from the class of 2000. Both Joel Ryder and Jon Laidecker graduated from Mansfield University. Ryder is currently the school’s art teacher, while Laidecker continued studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and is with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

Muncy Bank and Trust donated $17,000 towards this mural project according to David Mayer, Senior Vice President. “The Muncy Bank and Trust Company is very pleased to be able to make donations through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC),” he said. The bank supports five local school districts through this program with donations totaling $111,111. “There is great satisfaction in being able to support educational opportunities for our schools. The mural project allows students to showcase their skills while learning more about the history of their hometown area,” Mayer added.