After Chris VanderSlice passed away from leukemia last year, the Bulldog community brainstormed ways to honor the former principal’s legacy. For several art students at Grandville High School, remembering VanderSlice came with an artistic twist.
Now, near the entrance of the school’s athletic building, a mural dedicated to the life of the principal depicts a rock climber (rock climbing was one of VanderSlice’s passions), and a collection of encouraging words. Through the artwork, students hope VanderSlice’s “Got Grit“ attitude will live on.
“This project radiates perseverance, grit and determination,” said Grandville High School art teacher Derek Johnson. “This is part of our dedication to his strength and dedication to this school.”
For one hour, three days a week, 10 students from honors art class brainstormed, created and collaborated on the art project.
“These guys are dedicated artists that have taken this project on as their own,” Johnson said. “I’m proud of the work that they have done throughout the evolution of the mural.”
Junior Alyssa Fahner plans to pursue forensic science after graduation, but has a special place in her heart for art.
“Art has really helped me reduce the stress levels in my life and has given me a sense of expression,” Alyssa said.
A Continuing Impact
This mural project was especially important to Alyssa because it reminds her of VanderSlice, an administrator who had a positive impact on the Grandville community, she said.
“It’s a great thing to have to remember him and all that he stood for and to have something that represents our school so well.”
Messages written on the mural also stand for the values of Grandville as a whole, Alyssa said.
“The words, they all represent something different and powerful and something that almost everyone will be able to relate to,” she said. “There’s something for everyone here and something to be reflected on as well.”
Junior Landyn Teachout hopes to go into graphic design, but enjoyed working on the project. “This has been a really fun project for us all and a really powerful one too,” she said. “I’m excited for everyone to see it when it is finished.”
In addition to its meaningful dedication, the mural is part of the new hallway beautification project at Grandville High School.
“The hallways were just too plain, they needed something to brighten them up,” said Deb Kreuyer, high school art teacher.
Additional projects include a ceramic tile display near the high school entrance and op art ceiling tiles throughout the halls. “We’re livening up the walls with student-driven inspiration,” Kreuyer said.
She hopes that soon, student art will be visible all across the school.
“We’ve got a lot of talent here,” she said. “It’s a great way to get the students involved in a way that you can actually see.”