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Westford Scenes Come to Life in Day School Mosaics

January 31, 2018

WESTFORD -- Look along the walls of the Norman E. Day School cafeteria and you will see scenes of the town, rendered in picturesque, colorful mosaics.

One features fish swimming along in Reed Brook. Another depicts the snow-covered slopes of the Nashoba Valley Ski Area. And, of course, one shows Westford’s Town Hall and J.V. Fletcher Library overlooking the common. The six mosaics will hang in the school for years to come as a celebration of the town and the work that even elementary school students can do.

Last month, the school partnered with artist Lizz Van Saun to produce six mosaics of local flora, fauna and landmarks alongside effort from students. Teachers and parents gathered Wednesday along with Van Saun and the entire school for an unveiling of the mosaics, each of which is three feet wide and four feet tall.

“When you come back, perhaps when you’re in high school, you’ll know that you created this and made this school beautiful,” Chris Sardella, the school’s principal, said at the ceremony.

Van Saun, a Hopkinton, New Hampshire, resident, runs similar programs in schools around the region. Van Saun said about a dozen schools are awaiting her services. She met Sardella at an art demonstration in Springfield, and the principal liked her work so much that he decided to bring her to the Day School.

First, Van Saun hosted students for an interactive gallery to teach them about the history of mosaics, stretching to ancient civilizations, and about how to produce them in contemporary times.

Students began the work by drawing pictures of what they wanted to be included in the mosaics. Over three weeks, Van Saun took their suggestions, drafted compositions for the final mosaics and built their frames.

This month, classes each took two shifts with Van Saun to assemble the mosaics, from placing colorful individual fragments that form the larger picture to laying down the grout that holds everything together. Every student in the school, whom Van Saun described as “wonderful,” was involved.

“Making mosaics together is the perfect way to connect,” Van Saun said during Wednesday’s ceremony. “We work together, collaborate, communicate and cooperate. Sharing our knowledge and skills, the strength of our community, each piece we add matters. The mosaic isn’t complete without you.”

The six mosaics depict familiar landscapes, often featuring local wildlife, from around town: the Abbot Mill and nearby Forge Pond, the common featuring the library and Town Hall, Fletcher Quarry, Reed Brook, the Stone Arch Bridge and, finally, Nashoba Valley Ski Area.

Emma Egan, a third-grader, said the images will “make the cafe a brighter and more energetic place.”

Several other students spoke at the unveiling to praise Van Saun’s work and the unity that went into the project.

“When everyone works together, it is amazing to see what you can achieve,” said Ian Skinner, a fifth-grader. “I hope this serves as an example to future students that when the Day School family works together, beautiful things happen.”

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisLisinski.