TVES Wins CT’s Paul G. Earth Artist Program Award

Totoket Valley Elementary School was the Connecticut recipient of an award from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency will be visiting today to film a video with art teacher Elyse Mortensen, Principal Kris Lindsay and a student representative from each of the 4th-grade classes.

The group is being honored after being the Connecticut winner of the EPA’s Paul G. Earth Artist Program Award. In the past, the contest was based on poems, essays and posters and Mortenson was thrilled that this year’s contested was broadened to include art and sculpture.

“This was the perfect opportunity to get the kids involved so the 4th-grade classes and I brainstormed ideas for a community project,” said Mortensen. “It was important that it was something we could as a large group and a way to build awareness that we are a green school. There was no better way than using such a universal language like art.”

The group came up with a concept for a mural that was made with recycled and reused materials like an old bulletin board previously destined for the trash, potato chip bags, soda cans and more.


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Mortensen used the opportunity as an art lesson as well as they talked about contrasting colors and ways to make their message stand out. The students used about 100 pieces of trash to make a collage for the background and two of the classes painted recycled cardboard to frame the project.

They enlisted the community’s help in sending in recyclables and decided to use Coca Cola cans to spell out their message: “TVES Can Recycle.”

“The red really stood out and now it hangs near the trash cans to remind kids to put stuff in the right bins,” said Mortensen. “We were really happy with the pop of the actual message.”

Mortensen also pointed out that the contest came at a perfect time, following the and the . She noted that many of the students’ inventions were focused on going green, saving the Earth and protecting endangered species.

The entire process was documented by Mortensen as she took notes and photos to submit with the application. They even made a cover for their application with old potato chip bags.

“We wanted to present it in a way to make us stand out,” said Mortensen. “It really showed that fun energy that we have. I’m really proud of everyone.”


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