LaVilla launches 20th anniversary celebration with beautification project

LaVilla launches 20th anniversary celebration with beautification project
Jason Tetlak was less than halfway through a 3,000-square-foot mural project at LaVilla School of the Arts on July 18 with plans to complete it before the end of July.

A collaboration between a local artist, a global company and a public middle school will result in a beautification project just in time to celebrate LaVilla School of the Arts’ 20th anniversary during the 2019-2020 school year.

When Murray Hill resident Jason Tetlak’s daughter, Logan entered LaVilla in fall 2018, he offered his services as a mural artist to create a 3,000-square-foot mural for the side of the 18-foot high by 190-foot long wing that houses the theater and classrooms for band, orchestra and piano. Tetlak also proposed painting the same colorful, geometrical design on the roof of the portico and other designs on some of the interior walls.

While school leaders were mulling over Tetlak’s proposal, the Haskell Company selected the downtown-based middle school for its annual Green Apple Day of Service project. After LaVilla Principal Lianna Knight shared the idea of the mural with Jacob Thurlow, Haskell director of project development, the company decided to fund the mural project, too. 

Jacob Brown, a Haskell summer intern, worked with Jacob Thurlow on the beautification project for LaVilla School of the Arts.
Jacob Brown, a Haskell summer intern, worked with Jacob Thurlow on the beautification project for LaVilla School of the Arts.

“Half of the project is beautification and aesthetics, and the other half is education, and putting back landscaping that is native to the area that doesn’t require pesticides and a lot of water, also installing landscaping to serve as pollinators for bees and butterflies. We’ll have a rain garden component, too,” said Thurlow. “It doesn’t just look nice, it also serves a purpose and contributes to a sustainable environment.”

Over the summer, interns at the Riverside-based planning, design and construction company designed the landscape project for the front of the school.

“We were tasked to work on the Green Apple Day service project and divided the roles into project managers, architects and an engineer,” said Jacob Brown, a student at Bartram Trail High School. “The goal is to educate the students and have a sustainable feature in there, so everyone benefits from it.” 

Jacob Thurlow points to a landscaping idea that summer interns considered for the landscaping project at LaVilla School of the Arts.
Jacob Thurlow points to a landscaping idea that summer interns considered for the landscaping project at LaVilla School of the Arts.

Haskell has participated in Green Apple Day of Service since 2012, beginning at Andrew Jackson High School. Most of the projects have been exterior projects, creating or repairing courtyards, installing landscaping, putting in compost beds and raised gardens, but in 2016, the project was repainting the interior of the newly renovated Robert E. Lee High School.

Each year the project is determined “organically,” said Thurlow, usually through a connection someone at Haskell has with one of the public schools. “This year we have a gentleman here at Haskell, Allan Iosue, who is a neighbor of Lianna Knight, and my sister used to work for Lianna at LaVilla for many years,” he said.

On Saturday, Sept. 7, this year’s project will be led by the Green Apple Day of Service interns, Haskell employees, and LaVilla’s National Junior Honor Society Sponsors and students. 

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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