By Molly Reagan

We marked the two-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic’s entry into the U.S. this past week. It was in March 2020 when our routines came to a grinding halt and everyone was hunkered down in their homes, especially our schoolchildren. When school came back into session with in-person learning, gratitude permeated every lesson in every interaction and every member of the St. Mary’s School Cortland community.

We didn’t know how blessed we had been in the “before times.”

We were finally back together. We were six feet apart, but still able to look one another in the eyeball, able to give in-person air-hugs, able to manage a classroom the way we’d been trained, to use the skills we’d honed through years of practicing the craft of teaching.

“Together” became the theme for the 2021 school year. It was the most fitting word to describe, to uplift and to face the challenges and the joys of the school year.

Often, art projects span several classes as students work on “team projects.” With COVID still looming and physical distancing imperative, team projects had to pivot.

The “Together” mural was that pivot.

Each child, kindergarten through sixth grade, created a doodle that captured what sprang to  mind when thinking of the word “together.’ Their doodles were compiled and superimposed over text. With class periods shortened and shared cups of paint out of the question, the typical execution of the mural also needed to morph. Enter a T-shirt emblazoned with the new mural design sold to raise funds for the new (and expensive!) paint pens.

Finally, fifth- and sixth-graders were turned loose to trace the doodles of the student body onto the wall.

The result is something the school draws inspiration from and takes pride in, and it testifies to the power of pivoting together.

Molly Reagan is the art teacher at her alma mater, St. Mary’s School in Cortland. She developed her love of art and murals in that very place. Molly also operates her own business, Good Neighbor Art, where she specializes in abstract expressionist murals for residences, businesses and nonprofits, fine art as well as family and saint watercolor portraits. For every new art release, 20% of her proceeds go to local nonprofits like Catholic Charities and the United Way. Find her work at www.GoodNeighborArt.com or on Instagram @GoodNeighborArt.


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