MIDDLEBURY-SOUTHBURY — The front lawn of Rochambeau Middle School and driveways around Southbury and Middlebury have been planted with inspirational art and messages this spring.
The artwork, part of the “Signs of Hope” movement, is an opportunity to empower local students and families to paint a positive message or piece of art to lift the spirits of the community during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Barbie Granton, whose daughter, Stevie, is a seventh grader at RMS, initiated the Signs of Hope movement in Region 15.
Ms. Granton said she was inspired by her friend Chris Tucker in Beacon Falls, who launched a similar program for the kids in his town after being saddened by the empty parks and ball fields this spring. His efforts have built close to 2,000 signs that currently line Main Street in Beacon Falls.
Following Mr. Tucker’s lead, Ms. Granton approached RMS Principal Michael Bernardi and Assistant Principal Emily Gervasio and asked if RMS could pioneer a similar project.
As a member of the RMS School Climate Committee, a team of parents and Rochambeau staff members who work to foster an inclusive and positive social-emotional learning environment, she felt the project was naturally suited to support students and families during an uncertain time.
Upon receiving approval, Ms. Granton bought wood and a screw gun, and quickly learned how to use the equipment. To date she has individually cut and assembled more than 500 signs.
“I love kids and volunteer much of my time as the Pomperaug Youth Softball Recreation League coordinator and coach, Girl Scout troop leader and as part of the Rochambeau Middle School Climate Committee,” she said. “Covid-19 not only shut down my employment, but all my volunteer time with the kids. My friend Chris is thrilled that ‘Signs of Hope’ was gaining movement in our community. We hope it goes viral. The more the merrier.”
RMS has been sharing their message with their school community, posting pictures on the school’s Instagram account and has plans to make a video of photos of the decorated signs. Anyone who has created a sign is encouraged to place it on the lawn of RMS.
Any local families who would like to create a sign or help support the project with wood donations or helping hands can email Barbie Granton at firstname.lastname@example.org.