College Hill Sixth Grade Academy in Texarkana, Arkansas transformed their school in 2019 with the artistic talents of Chris Opp encouraging students to engage in science through space. This project spanned several months and included wall murals, installations and student engagement. Students will engage with seven (7) rocket ships sized 6 ft to 14 ft, planets, sun and stars as they travel through the solar system down the hall of their school. Each rocket ship has a sign explaining the height, weight, thrust, stages and purpose. He also included the Statue of Liberty as a size reference of how large the rockets are.
The photos below show the before and after images of the project. Check out the photo below where the Principals and Board Members came together to celebrate the beautiful murals. If you look carefully over their shoulders, you will see a Razorback jumping over the moon.
The project was also very rewarding for Chris when he met a young girl, Kristyn, at the school who was deaf. Chris has lost over half of his hearing over the years and wears hearing aids to help him hear. One day, he put one of his hearing aids into Kristyn’s ear and she said she could hear better. He realized then that she had some hearing. Chris contacted a friend back home in Louisiana, Sammy San Angelo who owns Audibel Hearing Aid Company in Shreveport. Sammy enthusiastically stepped up and gave Kristyn a hearing test and learned she has partial hearing in one ear. Sammy gave Kristyn a hearing aid at no charge. Kristyn can now hear the “World” with one hearing aid! Art is a catalyst that opens the doors for Chris to connect with the community and give back in big ways. Learn more about how Chris gives back – click here.
One of the favorite elements in the project is the tribute to the astronauts in the Space Challenger Crew. This was done on a 4′ x 8′ panel with oils and acrylics. Signage with information were also part of the installation. A separate life-size astronaut cutout in a space suit used for traveling outside the space station was installed near the panel.
Another important element is this project, which was donated by Chris was engaging 100 kids, 20 painting at a time, 5 sessions a day for 3 days showing the kids how to paint on a wall. This project is called PRIDE and is part of the 8th Annual Pride Academy held by the Texarkana Police. PRIDE stands for Personal Responsibility in Daily Effort. It gave students the opportunity to show their PRIDE in their school by designing, drawing and painting areas they wanted to highlight in their school. The students worked hard and were very proud of their accomplishments!
Chris becomes a hero for many of the students that he works with in the schools. They are amazed by his talents and he is a constant encouragement for them to pursue their own dreams. Gloria is one of the many who was inspired by Chris, drawing him as Mr. Mustache!