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Baldwin High School students paint murals for area hospice

Baldwin High School students, including senior Alenzia Thigpen,

Baldwin High School students, including senior Alenzia Thigpen, right, hold the "Calming Murals" they painted during an unveiling at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream hospital on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Credit: Chuck Fadely

Liam Archibald, a graduating senior at Baldwin High School, usually can finish a painting in a few hours. But he spent more time on a recent mural when he learned it would hang in the hospice unit of a local hospital.

“I’m just glad that they’ll get to see something I made,” Archibald said, referring to the terminally ill patients for which the mural, which depicted a path toward a gray mountain, was painted. “I hope that it will touch them somehow.”

The work of nine Baldwin High School advanced placement art students was unveiled Tuesday at the hospice unit of Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital, where they will be on display permanently. The “calming murals,” all landscapes, are intended to “bring peace and serenity to the families going through hospice,” organizers said.

Students, parents, nurses and faculty joined school and hospital officials for the unveiling ceremony celebrating the work.

The murals were part of a developing collaboration between the high school and hospital, and part of an effort to integrate the hospital with its surrounding community, said Stephen Bello, incoming executive director of the hospital.

Barbara Walsh, the nurse manager in the hospice unit, called the paintings “perfect” for that part of the hospital.

“For the families at the end of life when they’re dealing with the loss of a loved one to see that somebody has taken the time and wanted this journey to be easier just gives them peace,” Walsh said.

The mural project began in late April after the students finished their AP art curriculum, their art teacher Michelle Liemer-Kelly said. This was the first time the art department partnered with the hospital, though AP art students often complete a community project at the end of the school year, she said.

Creating murals for terminally ill patients also allowed the students, who are also art honor society members, to learn about hospice care. As they learned more about end-of-life care, Liemer-Kelly said more students were inspired to participate.

“They do a lot at the end of the year, so for them to take time and come and do this is special,” she said.

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