Art Education

New storm drain murals give Richmond County students creative way to learn

Richmond County students are using their creativity to help beautify area schools’ storm drains while learning about the water system and stormwater pollution.

“I learned to not trash the water drain because the drain leads to the lake and the ocean, and it trashes the habitat and kills some animals,” said Charlotte Killebrew, a Goshen Elementary School fifth grader. “We do not like having animals die because some go extinct when that happens. If we keep it clean, we can help animals from going extinct.”

According to a media release from the Greater Augusta Arts Council, seven Richmond County public schools were selected to participate in a program designed to teach students about the water cycle, Augusta’s water ecosystem, the role of storm water in that system and the community’s responsibility as water system stewards.

Phinizy Center for Water Sciences staff taught the classroom curriculum, and murals were painted next to a storm drain based on what the students learned.

Schools involved in the program were Hephzibah and Westside High School, Goshen, Hephzibah, Warren Road and Willis Foreman elementary schools and Hephzibah Middle School.

The mural at Goshen Elementary School. Chris Rickerson/Augusta Good News

Students from the two high schools painted their own murals while the elementary and middle schools’ murals were designed with students by selected professional artists including Cyndy Epps, Nong von Buedingen, Aort Reed, Colleen Beyer & Wesley L. Stewart and Stephanie “HAM” Willingham.

Goshen Elementary School students got the opportunity to show off their storm drain murals on Wednesday.

Cyndy Epps, a local professional artist and professor at Augusta University who was named the Greater Augusta Arts Council’s Kath Girdler Engler Public Art Award recipient for 2023, helped the Goshen students with their mural.

“It was a great experience. I have done other murals around Augusta, but this was fun to be able to come out and work with the kids,” Epps said. “Designing it was fun to work with their ideas and communicating the message too because we went in and talked about storm drains and murals and then got the kids come out and do their part.”

While Epps helped elementary school students, they still were able to design many of the important features on the storm drain mural.

“We painted some butterflies and painted the water while she put in all the details,” said fifth grader Elijah Foster.

Courtney Morris, another Goshen Elementary fifth grader, said she was excited to learn and be a part of history at her school.

“It is really good because it is going show all of the new fifth graders what we have done for the school,” Morris said.

Meredith Godowns, Goshen principal, said she hopes to continue to do projects like this in the future.

“This gives our kids another medium outlet for expressing creative ideas,” Godowns said. “It also gives them a way to learn about the different things that go on with the storm water drainage project. We’d love to see more of this in the future.”

The Richmond County School System is expected to choose new schools next year and continue this program each year.

The program was created together by the City of Augusta Engineering and Environmental Services Department, the Greater Augusta Arts Council, Phinizy Center for Water Sciences and the Richmond County School System.

Chris Rickerson, a graduate of Augusta University, is a correspondent for Augusta Good News.

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