Posts Tagged ‘school’

B.F. Day Tile Mural: Volunteer Opportunity?

March 29, 2010
Portion of Tile Wall at B.F. Day

First Installment of B.F. Day Tile Wall, dedicated April 1995 - photo by Larry Wales

The corner of North 39th Street and Fremont Avenue can be landmarked by a tile mural that stands beside it, declaring the name of the school hidden by greenery behind it – B.F. Day Elementary.  The mural not only marks the location of the school, but also the artistic talents, interests and passions of a generation of students.

That opportunity, for graduating students to literally put their mark on the wall, may end.  According to Julie Trout, B.F. Day visual arts teacher, “I am not sure if I will continue it this year due to a reduced schedule.”  The wall began with a volunteer effort, and when asked if a volunteer effort could help, Trout enthusiastically stated, “that would be great!  I’m not sure I can do it alone again.”

From Plain Concrete

The official program from the tile mural opening ceremony, dated April 18, 1995, listed Veronica (MacKinnon) Truffat and Dave McKay as the representatives of the Fremont Arts Council, and principal artists.  Truffat also gave credit to Steve Roach, who created many of the tiles in the classroom and in his Fremont shop, Aruba Tile.

“It was community art at its finest,” Truffat explained, “everybody was so enthusiastic!”  One long, rainy day, Denise (Fogleman) Henrikson helped McKay, who passed away soon thereafter, work under a blue tarp to install the white tiles that “so the name would pop.”  Truffat and McKay created the original design, and the vine tile frame – imprinted with the names of people and businesses that paid to support the project.  For inspiration, Truffat explained, “a plain, unattractive and really prominent concrete wall had to have the name of the school – and had to involve the school and the Fremont artists.”

To Instructional Tool

Robin Kinney Robbins has been at B.F. Day for 25 years.  She recalled the whole school getting into that first installation – the kids made tiles or pieces to be incorporated.  For four years Robbins worked at the school as the art teacher, and she got to carry on the project, with each year another panel installed and “each year a tile goes up for each 5th Grader that graduates,” Robbins explained.

Under her leadership, “the tiles were symbolic of what the child wanted to be or do,” Robbins described.  Students made their tile by hand, rolling it out for a bisque firing by Robbins.  The student would draw their design on paper, then pencil it on a fired tile before painting the design and covering the work in a glaze.  Robbins would then do a glaze firing, in the school’s kiln.

“We would spend a couple of months on it,” she admitted, and try to involve parents and members of the Fremont Chamber, “it’s quite a challenge to decorate a vertical wall.”  Yet, Robbins proudly stated, “most students that graduated from B.F. Day have a tile on that wall.”

When she inherited the project last year, Trout took a different tack.  She taught the students about mosaic work, world art, and mandalas – then each child made their own.  “I really want kids to find the joy in creating,” Trout explained, and this project “is part of the bigger picture of opportunities for the kids to create.”

Comes a Historic Landmark

Truffat identified the long-term joy behind the wall.  “I love to show friends,” she admitted, “I’ll make them guess which one is mine,” and they usually can.  “That’s the nice thing about tile, it holds up real well,” Truffat said.  It will hold up, if installed.

This year Trout had her hours cut back and won’t have time to create a panel with the graduating class, “we would need volunteers to come in and work with the kids, or help to install it, or donations of mosaic material.”  If you can help, contact Trout by e-mail or leave a message for her at 206/252-6010.  “This is one of our great public schools,” Robbins enthused.  Wouldn’t it be great to show it some great community support?

©2010 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.


Global Reading Champs

February 24, 2010
Neon Yellow Pies Global Reading Team

2009 Global Reading Champs from B.F. Day - photo provided by Gil Hedges-Blanquez

An edited version of a column by Kirby Lindsay, for

On Wednesday, February 24, a very important, and very popular, all-school assembly will take place at B.F. Day Elementary.  This is the first level of the Global Reading Challenge – a program of Seattle Public Library (SPL) for Seattle Public School students – and it will feature 4th & 5th graders, divided into teams of seven students each, responding to questions about 10 specific books. 

According to School Librarian Gil Hedges-Blanquez (or ‘Mr. Gil’ as he is known to simply everyone at the school), B.F. Day has participated in this competition since 2002, when they won the entire Challenge.  Then, in 2009, they took first place again!

Competitive Reading?

Mary Palmer, Children’s Librarian at the SPL Downtown Branch, reported that 45 Seattle schools will take part in the Challenge this year, including Greenwood, Broadview-Thompson, and John Stanford International (a complete list is available on the Global Reading home page).  The list of books team members must read comes from the SPL, who posted the books for 2010 last November. 

To get on a team, Mr. Gil explained, B.F. Day teachers require that students read all ten books.  From there, he has recommended that teams divide up the list, and members select two titles on which to specialize.

When the first competition begins, Mr. Gil reported, “it’s quite a spectacle!”  As teams compete in semi-final rounds, younger students and classmates cheer on chosen favorites.  Everyone picks a team – by friendship, kinship or a ‘Reading Buddies’ relationship – to cheer on.  Competitors answer questions – true or false, multiple choice and short answer – in written form, and after consultation among team members.

The top team at B.F. Day will compete against teams from each of the other Seattle Schools – and the top two teams will emerge.  These teams will proceed to the global portion of the competition – a ‘face off’ against two finalist teams from schools of Fraser Valley and Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada.

“The kids look forward to it,” Mr. Gil repeated several times.  The program promotes teamwork, reading and writing plus encouraging younger kids, through a truly fun atmosphere.  He voiced concern over budget cuts jeopardizing a truly outstanding opportunity, but Palmer quickly pointed out that the Challenge isn’t funded by the SPL budget.

Instead, generous outside sources – Target, the Seattle Public Library Foundation, Northwest Literacy Foundation and the Ballard Rotary Club – sponsor this program.  As Palmer expressed her gratitude to organizations that make the Challenge possible, she also admitted, “it makes a sport of reading.”

So, Fremonsters everywhere may don their cheerleading gear and root on our favorite team – GO B.F. DAY!!

©2010 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.