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Downtown banner project shows community spirit

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By Jenny Hartley

Anyone can have a hand in designing the new banners that will be hung in downtown Lancaster in March.

Twenty-five McDonald Green Elementary School third-, fourth- and fifth-graders painted some of the 80 banners that will hang from the lamp posts around the city at Chastain’s Studio Lofts on Main Street on Friday.

They were joined by Lancaster County school board Chairwoman Charlene McGriff and district Superintendent Dr. Gene Moore, who tried their hand at painting as well.

“I’m an artist,” McGriff said with excitement.

“The children were complimenting my art skills,” said McDonald Green Elementary Principal Michelle Crosby, who was also an artist for the day.

“It’s a good project,” Crosby said. “The students seemed to have enjoyed working on the banners. They’ve taken part in something that they can tell their friends and family about. One boy said, ‘We could be famous.’”

The designs were submitted by students from the school district as well as residents. Those designs were drawn onto the banners for the students to paint.

About 400 people will come in contact with the banners, either through the original design or the actual painting, before the project is finished, said David Platts, arts specialist for the school district.

“This is an art project for everyone, not just the children in the schools,” Platts said.

“As they painted, the adults really got into it,” Platts added.

Students will be at Chastain’s Studio Lofts from 9 a.m. to noon this week working on the banners, but any resident who wants to paint may join them then.

The studio will be open in the afternoons from 3 to 6 p.m. for residents interested in participating.

Middle and high school students will design and paint larger banners to be placed on cubes produced by local metal sculptor Bob Doster. The cubes will be displayed downtown.

The theme of the project, sponsored by the Lancaster County Council of the Arts, Lancaster County School District, See Lancaster and the city of Lancaster, in conjunction with the Kennedy Center Partnership, is “Creativity: The Choice of Our Community.”

The banners will be hung for Youth Art Month. They will be in place on March 5 when the arts council holds its annual spring arts walk, Platts said.

Christina Chastain, owner of Chastain’s Studio Lofts and program director for the arts council, helped the students paint Friday.

At the end of the session, she offered friendly critiques of the students’ work and asked them to talk about what they liked about the banners.

The banners picture a keyboard with abstract sound waves, artist’s palettes, the color wheel, paint brushes, film strips and other art-related themes.

“I like the bottom part,” said one student during the critique, “because it looks like waves.”

Another student probably summed up his classmates’ enthusiasm for the project.

“To tell you the truth, I like all of it,” he said.

Chastain said the banner project is beneficial to the students because it encourages teamwork. She hopes other residents will come in this week to paint on the banners.

“It gets everyone involved and it shows community spirit, especially in the arts,” she said.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151