Sophie McAuliffe

Sophie McAuliffe

School mural draws on Nanaimo students’ passions

NANAIMO – Teachers guide students to create mural of what sparks their imaginations.

As Angela Jurgensen graduates from Vancouver Island University’s postbaccalaureate teacher training program this week, it is fitting that Jean Kloppenburg will also be receiving her master’s degree in education.

Kloppenburg, a teacher at Woodlands Secondary School, served as a sponsor for Jurgensen. Together with more than 160 students from Grade 9-12, they collaborated on a 168-square-foot mural embodying students’ sparks of passion.

It took two years and was Jurgensen’s major practicum project.

Students painted their passions on tiles, which were combined to make a mural of the school mascot, an eagle.

The idea was inspired by the Kunamokst mural mosaic on Galiano Island. RCMP Cpl. Dave Cusson and the Drug and Organized Crime Awareness Service included the spark concept as part of a presentation Cusson made at the school.

“They found that having a spark is what really keeps kids excited about their future,” said Kloppenburg. “Positive things in their life and finding out what that spark is is a major part of keeping them in school and being successful people to work towards it.”

Sparks consisted of a lot of art and sports-related tiles as well as ones detailing future professions. Kloppenburg said Jurgensen did the bulk of the work.

“I had 60 arts students this term that completed tiles and Angela was here a lot, just making sure students were putting in and she drew the whole image, made sure it all fit together, did the colour palettes.

“I had a colour theory we talked about using, so we collaborated on a lot but I would probably give her 100 per cent of the hard work,” said Kloppenburg.

“I came to the kids … and I asked them, what do you guys think should be outside your school? And they came up with a lot of different sketches and ideas,” Jurgensen said. “I got home with those ideas and saw there was a theme of eagles flying and also a lot of the northwest.

“Pictures of arbutus, a lot of mountains, a lot of islands, so I just started putting some ideas together, sketches something, brought it to them and they liked it and it became our drawing.”

For more information on the mural, please go to

Jurgensen and Kloppenburg are two of 650 students who will graduate from Vancouver Island University today and tomorrow (Jan. 29-30) at 2:30 p.m.

Convocation ceremonies at the Port Theatre will also feature installation of a new chancellor as Louise Mandell and presentation of an honorary doctorate of science to Crawford “Buzz” Holling, for his work managing natural resources.

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