Student Mural Highlights Lowell Section of National Scenic Trail

Creators of the mural (left to right, front row): resident artist Erwin Erkfitz, students Madeleine La Vean, Emily Peterson and Isobel Alberts; (back row) students Jordan Basinger, Santana Boulton, Alex Tremblay, Paige Wilson, Connor Bergin, Anna Peterson, Mikayla Burke and Brigitte Casalina

Most people don’t know America’s longest National Scenic Trail goes right through Lowell. But thanks to some artistic Lowell High School students, a lot more of them do now.

Tarin Hasper, a trail association employee, says the mural has attracted passers-by

The North Country Trail, a 4,600-mile route from New York to North Dakota, winds through downtown past the trail’s headquarters at 229 E. Main St. There, on the east side of the red-brick building, 11 students this summer painted three fanciful scenes depicting the trail.

The colorful pictures have pulled in passers-by since then, said Tarin Hasper, administrative assistant for the North Country Trail Association.

“We get a lot of people peering at it,” Hasper says. “People will look at that, then wander around (the corner) and come in. We’ve seen more traffic because of it.”

The project was coordinated by the nonprofit LowellArts! organization with funding from the Lowell Education Foundation. Students helped design and create the mural under the direction of Grand Rapids mural artist Erwin Erkfitz. The aim was to help students learn more about working artists while building teamwork and community pride.

Nancy Breuker, a Murray Lake Elementary first-grade teacher, includes the trail headquarters in an annual student tour of the community. She says the mural draws attention to the trail and to hiking, which her family loves.

“My friends are surprised to hear it’s larger than the Appalachian Trail,” Breuker says. “The news is still getting out there.”

Students painting the North Country Trail Association mural this summer
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Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio or email Charles.


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