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New Mural at Aiken School Celebrates Diverse and Welcoming Environment

A group of Aiken students standing under the mural's tree at the open house. Courtesy photo

A new mural has been painted in the cafeteria of Aiken Elementary School, funded by the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools and the PTO.

Students gather to watch as Sherrie Fitzpatrick begins her work on the Aiken mural. Courtesy photo

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An open house was held at Aiken Elementary School earlier this month, and approximately 60 students and their families eagerly attended to view the newly-completed mural in the school cafeteria.

The mural was painted by Sherrie Fitzpatrick, who has also completed work at Wolcott School. Shannon Mlodzinski, the Aiken principal, commented on the idea behind the mural. “The cafeteria is a place where all students come together and we wanted the space to be more representative of our current school community,” she said.

The new mural at Aiken has been painted by Sherrie Fitzpatrick. Courtesy photo

Library Media Specialist Jessica Tamaccio suggested connecting the mural to the book “All Are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman.

“It is a beautiful book that celebrates a school’s diversity and sends a very powerful message of inclusivity and acceptance,” Tamaccio said. “I typically recommend this book to classroom teachers as a read aloud at the start of the school year and love the repeated phrase ‘All are welcome here.’ This book truly emulates the culture of acceptance and belonging that we strive to create at Aiken School and I am so happy it was the inspiration for our mural!” 

In the fall, Aiken teachers read the book “All Are Welcome” to their classes and students gave their input on ideas for the mural. It was a student who inspired the muralist to paint a tree with flags as the centerpiece of the mural. The 55 flags on the tree represent the different cultures and backgrounds of the students at Aiken. 

A plaque on the new mural describes the project. Courtesy photo

The funding for the mural was made possible by a grant from the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools and a generous donation from the Aiken PTO.

Aiken PE teacher Dan Golden wrote the grant for the mural. “We are happy and thankful for the support from the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools, our grant donors, Sofia Kokkini & Pavlos Papasavas, the Aiken PTO and to our muralist, Sherrie Fitzpatrick. Our mural will be a daily reminder to our students that a diverse community, inside and out of school, is who we are and that everyone plays an important part in it,” he said.

Student Rachel Linke and her siblings, James and Susan, enjoying the mural. Courtesy photo

Aiken parent Erin Monroe, who attended the open house and has two daughters at Aiken commented, “I personally am blown away by the imagery and the way the scene represents the community in an inclusive way.” 

The mural that was previously in the Aiken cafeteria has been replaced with a mural that represents the school’s diversity. Courtesy photo

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