Thanks to dedicated artists, city snowplows will be hard to miss

Artwork to debut at Homecoming

Lakeside Elementary fourth graders, from left: Landon Stadel, Ron Cai and Finn Williams

Art teacher Hillary Klopcic crouched in the shadow of a city snow plow, hair tacky with fresh blue paint, and gave students a quick painting primer.

“If your brush is dripping, it means you have too much paint, see? Wipe it on the edge of your container and you are ready to paint,” Klopcic demonstrated for students as she held up a brush with orange paint running from the tip.

Lakeside Elementary student Chuma Egwuatu sketches a snowplow as he waits his turn to paint the blade

“Can I paint a robot?” asked fourth grader Landon Stadel. For the record, the answer was ‘Sorry, not this time.’

“It’s very sticky paint,” pointed out Ron Cai. Especially if it drips on the tarp and you walk in it.

“We need more hair spikes over here,” said Finn Williams as he flicked more tufts onto the mascot lion’s mane. Yes, more hair spikes are always better.

Turns out, a lion — Lakeside’s mascot — was appropriate to include, as what students were painting is meant to be spotted and steered extremely clear of.

Over the past couple weeks, Klopcic and fellow art teacher Peri DenDulk  led third and fourth graders from all three elementary schools — Wealthy, Lakeside and Breton Downs — in decorating a trio of city snowplow blades.

Lakeside Elementary fourth graders Heidi White, left, and Lucy Custer

Each school kept with its theme for the year in conceiving of its unique snowplow art: for Lakeside it’s “Kindness Counts;” for Wealthy, “Make a Difference;” and at Breton Downs, the theme this year is  “Kind, Caring and Respectful.”

“We are happy to do this so the children can see something other than just a big truck moving snow. They can see something that they literally had a hand in making,” said Jeff Stults, senior crew leader for the city’s Department of Public Works. “Hopefully this can lead toward building a good relationship between the schools and the DPW, and highlighting more about what we do on a daily basis to the students.”

The district’s painted snowplow blades will make an appearance at the high school’s Homecoming parade on Sept. 27, and the annual Midwest Michigan “Snow Plow Roadeo” in October, to be held this year in Kentwood.

RepcoLite donated paint and supplies for the project, DenDulk said.

Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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