Messages of hope in both English and French are taped from floor to ceiling in a section of the first-floor corridor at Eastport-South Manor High School for a project that students are sending “To Paris with Love.”
That’s the theme of the student-created display installed after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. The display notes the 11 people killed in the January terrorist attack on the weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. A high school college-level English class wanted to let the people of France and Paris know they have their support.
“We were all kind of surprised and shocked about all the events that happened in Paris so we decided as a class to make projects showing our empathy and support especially because they attacked young music fans . . . and that affected us the most,” said Jessica Nicholson, 17, a senior.
The display will be sent to a high school in Paris near where the attacks occurred.
The installation is interactive. Much of the artwork depicts the French flag, the Eiffel tower and news articles, and there are index cards where passing students can write an unsigned message that will be part of the display.
Students in the French class also contributed a poster with messages written in French.
The junior-senior high school houses grades 7-12 under one roof, and seniors felt their younger peers needed a place to convey similar opinions and even anxieties.
“I know that writing is a good way to express your feelings, so this project — sending your message of hope or peace and seeing that other people are supporting it — is probably relieving to students and that they know they are not alone,” said Brianna Giannizzero, 17.
Freshman Lindsey Parenti, 14, paused between classes to write a quick note telling the people of Paris they were in her thoughts and prayers.
“They are going through a hard time and I thought I would let them know,” she said.
Nicholson, along with her peers, worked on a poster that read “Fight for our Freedom. Fight for our Creativity” depicting the Eiffel Tower peace sign connected to a hand holding a pencil in a representation of creativity.
“We wanted to tie together both events. Both really had an impact, especially on our college English class because we do think about the world around us and these were attacks on young people and creativity,” said Giannizzero, who also worked on the piece.
Educators in the district said students, who came up with the idea for the display, also have been using art as a way to deal with tragic world events. About 115 students in four English classes participated.
“We are trying to foster a thing called service learning and the idea is for the students to choose something they are affected by,” said English teacher Tracey McAdams. “And so my students were deeply affected by the events in Paris because of how many young people were affected. . . . They wanted to do something.”