Impact Fund awardee Edgecombe Circle Elementary’s will welcome and honor students from Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary in a wayfinding project titled, “Hope in the Heights”.  Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary is expected to close in Spring of 2020 and this community art project in collaboration with students, teachers, and local artist Whitney Frazier will help students in the transition to new surroundings and new classmates.  See the full description of the project below from Edgecombe Principal Monica McClain.

At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, Martin Luther King Jr Elementary School will close. The elementary school students at MLK
will transition to Edgecombe Circle as their new school home. As expected, the closing of this school is a source of sadness for MLK. To ease the pain of the transition, I am writing this grant to support transition project to assist with merging the communities but also a
project to have a piece of MLK Elementary in Edgecombe Circle forever. The project is a community art project for MLK and Edgecombe students to work together. A professional teaching artist, Whitney Frazier, will facilitate art workshops with pre-K – 5th grade students to design an art project that will be installed at Edgecombe and along a walking path that leads MLK students to their new school. This project, themed “Hope in the Heights,” will provide MLK students with an opportunity to define their hopes and dreams for their new school experience. During design workshops, students will use literacy skills including metaphors, similes, compound words, portmanues and descriptive writing to be incorporated in their designs. For example, “Hope feels like sitting on a cloud with all my best friends.” Then students will create visual imagery and design symbols that represent those hopes and dreams. Students and
teachers will participate in presentations and dialogue about final designs for the wayfinding project.

Outcomes of the Wayfinding Project will be determined through the community design process but will likely include; paint, stencils, polytab and small steel cut sculptures (trail markers). Visual components will be permanently installed inside the school as well as along the walking path. The professional teaching artist will interface with both school communities to design a project that is specific to the school and intentionally designed for them.

After students complete the Wayfinding project, Edgecombe will host an Installation Reception to “merge” the communities and unveil the piece to the community at large; MLK, Edgecombe Circle, BCPSS District Staff, and Park Heights Partners. This opening reception will include music by a local DJ, light fare and will be promoted to parents, teachers, residents and local leaders.

History of Project and Partnership: Since the announcement of MLK closing, Principal McClain has participated in numerous transition meetings, community walks and
focus groups with Park Heights community groups, Baltimore City Police, BCPSS district staff and parents from both school communities. In October, Whitney Frazier and McClain walked the route from MLK to Edgecombe with 20 other leaders to identify safety concerns and creative ways to engage students and families in the transition. McClain secured a small grant (match funds of $2,500) to begin a smaller scale community art project and to support transportation costs for MLK students to come to the install.
Additionally, Frazier has been working in the Park Heights community over the past year implementing public art projects with students from Pimlico EM School through IMPACT fund initiatives (funded by Dept. of Planning and BOPA).
Monica McClain
Principal, Edgecombe Circle