Everyone has a favorite

Some of the students who participated in the KidZone Art project in Comanche this past summer. From Left to Right are: Shelby Hudson, Arlyn Brantly, Adriane Capers, Raul Solis, Kassandra Solis, Davrey Carter, and Anthony Robinson. The mural hangs in the entryway to Comanche Elementary School.

COMANCHE — Summertime and Oklahoma’s Centennial celebration combined to provide Comanche children with an opportunity to learn and grow in a fun and unique way.

Students in fifth to eighth grades attended the KidZone Art project held in the summer and created a 5- by 7-foot mural that commemorates the rich history of Oklahoma for the Centennial. They donated the piece to the Comanche Elementary School, where it hangs in the entry way for all to admire it.

The mural contains symbols of the state that provided an excellent hands-on opportunity for the kids to learn in an exciting way.

“This was not a mandatory summer school,” said Arlyn Brantley, art teacher of the summer program. “Any child who wanted to attend was welcome to. We had 10-12 kids a day working on this project.

“We asked the kids to look up certain places on Google Earth and research the various symbols of Oklahoma. From that list of items, the kids chose the symbols they wanted to use and then the fun really began.

“We started by projecting an outline of Oklahoma onto the canvas and then the students traced it.”

“That was my favorite part of the project,” said Raul Solis.

“Next was tracing the outlines of the various state symbols,” Brantley said. “We painted the state animal — buffalo; wildflower — Indian blanket; bird — scissor-tailed flycatcher; amphibian — bullfrog; fish — white bass; tree — redbud; rock — rose rock;, and lizard — collared lizard. The students did all the shading and coloring. I didn’t need to do much touch-up work.”

“My favorite part of the whole process was getting dirty while painting,” said Shelby Hudson. “It was fun to learn about Oklahoma.”

The mural shows a collage of symbols painted with an enthusiasm that is unique to children excited about what they are learning. There is a vibrance that is inspiring to all who take the time to gaze deeply into the rich symbolism of the mural.

Of all the symbols on the mural, however, perhaps the least understood one is the rose rock. It resembles full-grown rose petals and comes in hues ranging from reddish brown to cinnamon.

An old Cherokee legend says the rocks represent the blood of the braves and the tears of the maidens who traveled the devastating Trail of Tears into Oklahoma. Another symbol that represents Oklahoma’s Indian heritage is the Indian blanket wildflower. It reflects Oklahoma’s scenic beauty and blooms in June and July.

“The kids had a ton of fun with this two-week project,” Brantley said. “I’d love to do it again.”

The final phrase on the mural comes from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” — “We know we belong to the land and the land we belong to is GRAND!”

The project will provide a lasting memory of the artistic experience for each child participating in creating the Oklahoma Centennial symbol.

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