By Vinchenza Sweet, Middle School Art Teacher
This is a story about unity that began with a simple handshake. The narrative involves students from varying backgrounds and experiences coming together as a unified group to visually represent the past year’s memorable event that has brought them together. The merger of Greengate School and Randolph School allowed students to share unique opportunities, form new friendships and celebrate more diversity on campus.
For the past nine years, the 8th grade class has collaborated on a legacy project, representing the strengths and characteristics of their class. This project is symbolic of their transition from the Drake Campus to the Garth Campus. The artwork students create makes our campus more beautiful and welcoming to visitors and leaves behind a lasting impression that reflects upon their middle school journey. The completed art will be exhibited at the Middle School to be celebrated and enjoyed by future generations.
"In order to show unity in a community, we need to be aware of everyone who is a part of it."
“The Legacy Project was developed in 2010 by art instructor Rosie Dumoulin to give the 8th grade class the opportunity to leave their mark, promote positive energy and artistically enhance the spaces on the Drake campus,” explains Visual Arts Teacher Mary Jones. “The intention was for the project to be developed by students and that every 8th grader would participate in its creation. This year’s project exceeds the high standards set by Mrs. Dumoulin for relevance, creativity, and purpose. Bravo class of 2023!”
This year, eleven 8th graders voluntarily signed up to be on the Legacy Project planning committee to lead their peers in the process of creating a work of art they felt best represented their generation of learners. The committee drove the project, starting with the subject matter and representation to the final completed rendering. They voted on the Greengate and Randolph merger because it best represented significant changes in their 8th grade year that have led to benefits on both sides.
In the Moving Up ceremony speech about the Legacy Project, Randolph School student Farrah Memon shared, “In order to show unity in a community, we need to be aware of everyone who is a part of it. Hand in hand with Greengate, we strive for equality and unity.”
"By merging with Greengate, we have learned how to welcome new people and try new things."
At the same ceremony, another student, Anna Katherine Jones, stated, “This is a big year for new opportunities for everyone who is able to come to Randolph. By merging with Greengate, we have learned how to welcome new people and try new things.” She further affirmed by quoting Meredith Grey, “I’d rather be extraordinary together, rather than ordinary apart.”
Their words resonated within the subsequent slideshow, portraying images of artwork created by her peers that illustrate themes of unity and support. The photographs taken during the process and displayed during the ceremony depicted students working together collaboratively as they created this project.
In addition to highlighting the benefits all students have received from the Randolph and Greengate merger, the committee wanted all 8th grade students to be able to represent their own individuality within the art project. They decided to give all students the opportunity to design a drawing inside of their own handprint that represented what is important to them as a class and an individual. These hands were collaged to the background of the main subject imagery of a handshake in green and blue.
The entire class of 2023 met together, brainstormed personal ideas for what they wanted to say within their art, and wrote about their ideas before committing to their designs. Despite the heavy workload encountered at the end of the year due to testing, events, and other obligations, they came into the art room during open times within the day so that they could claim their place and legacy within the collaborative art piece. These 82 hands represent the individual 8th grade students at Randolph and what is important to them in their lives at this time and place. It represents their inspirational words and images for future Randolph Middle School students. Their drawings vary widely from sports, to family, to spirituality, to friendships. Randolph students in the class of 2023 are artists, scientists, musicians, readers, travelers, engineers and athletes, among other worthwhile pursuits. They are kind, accepting, hard-working, and they value relationships.
“Each class establishes its own identity, even in a group with diverse interests, views, and approaches to the world, common qualities can rise to the surface that come to shape the experience of the whole,” said Middle School Head Clay Elliott, when he spoke to the class in May. “A great many wonderful qualities come to mind when I consider you, but one word came to me to identify your class as you chart a path through your Randolph experience. That word is Connection. As a group, it has defined your experience at Randolph, and it will continue to unite you and be a boon to Randolph in the four years to come. How great it will be to have a Senior class with your empathy and consideration for others four years from now!”
Do you want to know more about what these students chose to represent as their individual core values and life goals? You are welcome to visit the Middle School to look at the artwork and see for yourself their representations of the many facets of a Randolph 8th grader.
To commemorate this art and the journey of the 8th graders this past year, a plaque will be installed that states this quote by Henry Ford. “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”