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Special education instructional assistant dedicates time to creating art at elementary school.

Several walls at Harvey Clarke Elementary School in Forest Grove are getting a makeover.

Students are putting their creativity to good use, painting in the new murals drawn by an instructional assistant who works in special education at the school, Jan VanBlarcom.STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Leadership student, Cali Davis, 10, paints a butterfly on the mural at Harvey Clarke Elementary.

"To build this community, we are creating three murals: one in our gymnasium, one on our playground, and one under the outside cover and brick wall," VanBlarcom said.

Providing students the opportunity to contribute to the artwork suggests that "if we work together, using our commonality, we can create something really beautiful," VanBlarcom said.

VanBlarcom dedicates her own time, before and after school, to developing Harvey Clarke Elementary's artwork. Beyond the three new murals, she has made unique signs for teachers' classrooms, and she will eventually paint the entire gymnasium blue, adding characters doing physical activities throughout, she said. STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Timmery Waldron, 7, and Madelyn Frost, 8, work on the gym's mural before school.

"I love art, and I do anything to get the kids engaged in the classes," she said.

On the outside of the school's building, VanBlarcom plans to put up big chalk boards on the concrete wall under cover. This will give students a way to be creative in art during the rainy recess days where they are required to stay undercover, she said.

With varying donations from Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart and Fred Meyer, VanBlarcom was able to gather enough materials for students to use, so that they could have a hand in the project. Students will have the opportunity to participate in painting all of the new murals as well.

VanBlarcom has brought in leadership students, special education students, and various other students, in order to give them a role in their community art. STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - The first new mural by Jan Vanblarcom is being painted by students in the school's gymnasium.

To further the integration of art in the school, Harvey Clarke will host an art night, open to the community, on Thursday, April 26. Students and staff will showcase their artwork throughout the school and artists from Valley Art Association will provide hands-on demos. There will also be a performance from Theater in the Grove, Ballet Folklorico and NAMS String Program, administrators said.

The second annual "Evening with the Arts" will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at 2516 B St. in Forest Grove.



By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
503-357-3181
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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