Painted ceiling tiles part of O’Block Junior High students’ legacy
The next time you walk through the halls at O’Block Junior High School in Plum, look up.
For four years now, students in Amanda Durick’s seventh grade art class have been painting ceiling tiles with colorful caricatures and abstract shapes. The painted tiles have become part of Durick’s curriculum and are quickly becoming a memorable characteristic of the school.
“There’s hundreds of them,” Durick said. “Probably over 200.”
Bill DePew, eighth grade art teacher, started the project 15 years ago when he noticed the art classroom’s drab appearance.
“It was like a prison,” he said. “And the ceiling tiles are kind of like a canvas. It’s a good way to make use of white square footage.”
Former O’Block principal Joe Fishell said he saw the painted ceiling tiles as a way to allow students to leave behind a legacy.
“I love that the students have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the building. It’s their part of the building,” Fishell said. “That’s really what attracted me the most to the little project — well, now it’s a huge project.”
Seventh-graders Aiden Keller and Tyler Yurisinec, both 12, worked intently on their ceiling tile one day in Durick’s class. Their tile was being transformed into a portrait of their dream car – the Bugatti Chiron.
“We both like cars,” said Keller. “This is the newest model and most people are freaking out about it because it’s like $3 million.”
Classmates Ange Tedesco and Kendall Regan, both 12, took a lighter approach with their tile.
“We’re working on a family portrait of ‘The Simpsons,’” Regan said.
The students’ different choices underscore the significance of the legacy project, said DePew.
“With junior high kids, when they get to pick something to do that they’re interested in, it’ll sustain forever,” he said.
That’s the goal, said Fishell.
“I want every single one of (the ceiling tiles) painted. Those tiles are something they’re leaving. It’s a part of themselves that’s now part of the school,” he said.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.