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Art students at Holmen High School have created a mural honoring peacemakers and combating hateful political rhetoric.

The four students taking an art seminar class from teacher Christine Michels painted the mural this semester along the walls in the school’s large group room. The mural features quotes from John Lennon along with portraits of peacemakers such as Malala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

Senior Kiersten Leon said the mural started with Yousafzai, a Nobel laureate who stood up for girls’ rights to education in Pakistan and was rewarded with a Taliban bullet. The students worked to choose a diverse group of peacemakers, and researched each one of them for the mural, which was a three-month project.

“I just thought we needed to make a statement,” Michels said. “To remind us we are all together.”

Senior Alyssa McCathie worked on the quotes used in the mural and said Lennon’s words summed up their desires for the mural well.

“You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one,” the mural reads. “Hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.”

Pope Francis is also on the mural, and his addition involved a lot of debate, Junior Matilda Vogel said. But he has been so active on the issue of peace and breaking down barriers.

“He is one of the new faces,” she said. “It is good to have him on the wall.”

Since the mural was completed, a number of people have left positive comments about the artwork, complimenting its beauty and its message. Michels said the students learned a lot with the project, which required the different artists to work together and blend their difference talents.

“The art motivated me the most,” senior Cherish Noffke said. “Learning about them as we painted was a great experience.”

All of the students were proud of their accomplishments and the message they will be able to leave for future generations of Holmen students.

“It is a surreal moment,” Vogel said. “I helped create that. It is more than a mural, and I have so much invested in it emotionally.”

“The art motivated me the most. Learning about (peacemakers) as we painted was a great experience.” Cherish Noffke, Holmen High senior

“I just thought we needed to make a statement. To remind us we are all together.” Christine Michels, art teacher


Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

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