Colwood school raises $14K for massive mural
More than 25 feet up in the air, a steady hand gently dots the eye of a jaguar with dollop of black paint.
His hands gently guide a joystick that prompts a scissor lift into action, dropping down a foot where he weaves his paintbrush over a lock of grass.
One hundred hours into a 1300-square-foot mural at John Stubbs Memorial school, painter Steve Milroy is only one third of the way through what he expects might be his best work yet.
“I am a very hard critic on myself … but I can guarantee the kids will be going absolutely ape,” he said of his 35th school mural. “I think this is going to be a knockout mural.”
Painted with a combination of brushes and air brushes, the 75-foot wide, 20-foot high jungle-scape complete with the school mascot jaguar growling and reaching out with claws outstretched, was once just an idea.
“Our goals were to improve the schools identity and the atmosphere in the school,” said leadership teacher Carlie Kilduff. “Being a new school how do you buy into an identity?”
When she brainstormed the question with her Grade 9 class, the students came forward with an idea.
“(They) approached me with so much passion about doing a mural,” Kilduff said. “This was a big vision for these kids for creating a legacy for John Stubbs to step up and claim its glory.”
It wasn’t easy for her or the students. Raising $14,000 for expenses was a huge hurdle for the four-year-old school.
Kilduff was unsure if it would take two or three years to complete, if it would even happened at all.
“I have had a lot of sweat and stress, wondering if we were going to get this mural or not,” she said. “(I didn’t want) to tell these kids they weren’t getting (it).”
In the end it took less than a year. After raising $2,200 through local business sponsorships, the school lent a hand funding the remainder of the project so the school mascot could come to life on the walls of the gym where the unveiling will take place in January.
“So many schools have murals as well and it is cool to have one of our own. I am excited to see it because it is going to look really cool,” said Grade 9 student Teagan Coles. “It is fun to see the progress of it everyday, and see how much he has done. You just keep waiting to see what the final product is going to look like.”
With about 200 painting hours to go, Milroy is working feverishly, but without sacrificing quality so students can finally have what they have waited so long for.
“I went overboard on detail, (more) then I had anticipated,” the 29-year artist said. “The students worked their magic on me and I want to do an extra special job.”
The public is welcome to visit the official unveiling happening Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. at John Stubbs school.