Harvey Clarke students put artists touch on mural

Finished - Thanks to a cadre of volunteers and more than 450 children, historic figures adorn two walls at school
by: Chase Allgood, Parent volunteers Tyla Young (in back) and Kimberly Howell (holding plaque) stand with Harvey Clarke Elementary School students Ty Perini, Alaura Sullivan, Olivia Frederick, Casey Young, Patrick McGee, Megan Howell and Chandler Young in front of a gigantic history-oriented mural that was completed last fall at the Forest Grove grade school.

After thousands of brush strokes that brought a huge mural to life at Harvey Clarke Elementary School last year, Kimberly Howell still hasn't solved the mystery of the missing 'e.'

'I don't know why the spellings are different,' said Howell, an artist and parent volunteer at the Forest Grove grade school, where two of her four children are enrolled.

She was referring to the discrepancy between history books - where the 17th century missionary, educator and community leader is known as Harvey Clark - and the name of the school, which fastens an 'e' on the end of the surname.

For the record, the name attached to Howell's image of the man on the mural matches the school's name.

All students helped

Painted in latex acrylics, the mural includes the work of each of the school's 450 students, from kindergarten through fifth-grade.

'We divided the wall space into 12-inch blocks, and each child got their own section,' said Howell, who coordinated the three-month-long project with parents Karri Robison and Kara Hall.

Howell designed the mural, which includes dozens of elements of Oregon and Forest Grove history, from area orphanage founder Tabitha Brown to explorers Lewis and Clark to Sacajawea.

Also depicted are the Pacific University campus, Multnomah Falls and the historic Alvin T. Smith house of Forest Grove.

'The fourth-graders always study state history, so there was a natural link there,' observed Howell.

One of Howell's favorite renderings is of a small boy fishing in what could be Gales Creek. The figure was drawn by Robison and painted by the children.

'It's very whimsical and fun,' said Howell.

City helps with grant

A $600 grant from the City of Forest Grove will help maintain the mural over the next 10 years, Howell said. And a wooden plaque in the shape of the state of Oregon soon will hang near the artwork.

For many of the students, it was their first chance to create something so large.

'They said it was very exciting to paint their own section of the mural and to stand on the big ladder,' said Jerrie Matsuszak, principal at Harvey Clarke. 'It was a fun experience they will remember for a long time.

'They want to come back and visit so they can see their name on the wall in the square they were able to paint all by themselves.'

Matuszak said she hopes the children remember 'they were a part of a project that brought beauty and history to our school.'