Record & Landmark News paper
By Preston Spencer
Statesville High School unveiled artwork on Wednesday meant to celebrate diversity in what officials hope is the latest step in stopping bullying.
“Faces of Diversity” was revealed in the lobby of Mac Gray Auditorium during a brief morning ceremony attended by a few dozen students. The artwork, which is made up of sliced glass, was constructed by artist Edwin Gil, who has worked with several school systems on promoting tolerance of others.
More than 1,200 SHS students fingerprinted pieces of glass for the picture, which was created in the image of SHS Freshman Jennifer McLain, who organized an all-day anti-bullying event at the school last Thursday.
SHS became the sixth school, including one in Medellin, Colombia, to work with Gil on the Faces of Diversity initiative, an international project seeking to break down stereotypes through art. Gil, who grew up in extreme poverty, said it was “such an honor” to support the message behind the initiative.
“Tears came to my eyes this week when I was finishing the project,” said Gil.
Using all the different fingerprints from students demonstrates how people’s differences can come together to create something beautiful.
“We wanted to show how treating someone with respect and dignity…is at the core of what it means to be human,” said Brian Cockman, president of Rooster Communications and co-creator of Faces of Diversity.
McLain and Iredell-Statesville Schools’ administration worked over the summer to organize last week’s Ignite Summit, where students from all district middle and high schools gathered to design plans to stop bullying in each of their schools.
McLain, who was inspired to hold the summit after enduring years of being bullied, said on Wednesday that she hoped the artwork made in her likeness would have a positive impact on classrooms across the school system.
Mount Mourne IB student Jacob Ramsey attended the summit and Wednesday’s presentation, and said he thought the work begin done to combat bullying was wonderful. Ramsey is North Carolina’s Youth Ambassador for the Tourette Syndrome Association, and has experienced his own share of being picked on due to his disorder.
“Everybody’s different and everybody should be treated the same even though they’re different,” said Ramsey.
SHS Principal Garriot Rose told students on Wednesday that more important than their grades or popularity is how they treat and interact with each other.
“Those are the tools that make us as successful as we want to be,” said Rose.
Rose reminded those present for the “Faces of Diversity” unveiling that “throughout our society, there are bullies of all ages and people everywhere who are getting bullied,” adding importance to being proactive in fighting the issue.
“Students, I’ll leave you with this – let’s make a difference,” Rose said. “Help us come together as a school and community and put bullying in the past.”