About 900 students and staff from Long Beach Middle School created a human surfboard Tuesday as part of an art project to celebrate their city and its sustainability efforts.
The school partnered with Oregon-based artist Daniel Dancer to develop the project over about two months, school principal Paul Romanelli said. Dancer creates living “Art for the Sky” projects as “a way to wake people up to what’s happening with our climate,” he said.
Students and staff wore shirts of royal blue and white — the school’s colors — to serve as “human drops of paint” filling in the design of the surfboard’s shape, Romanelli said. The school also used mulch, bluejeans and trash collected from its recent beach cleanup to fill in the design.
On the ground, it looked like a lot of students kneeling among debris. But seen from above, they had created a half-blue, half-white surfboard shape with a black and white yin and yang symbol made of crushed cans, trash bags and the mulch.
The project is one of several efforts undertaken this school year that focused on reusability and sustainability, Romanelli said. Other projects included a student group that sold reusable water bottles, he said. Additionally, school officials had filtered water fountains installed and the school garden now uses a composter.
Romanelli called Tuesday’s art project “a celebration.”
“We’re celebrating the fact that the City of Long Beach is going green, and we’re a big part of that,” he said.
The school held a student contest to choose the design for the project. Sixth-grader Katie Corbett, 12, created the winning idea.
Sam Thomas, a seventh-grader involved in planning the project, said creating a surfboard “really symbolizes Long Beach.” The final design also included an ocean wave and a recycling symbol made from crushed aluminum cans.
“On the ground it looks completely different — it just looks like a bunch of mulch and garbage bags and stuff — but in the air it looks amazing,” said Sam, 12.
Sixth-grader Saige Berube said she hoped the project brought the school community together and promoted recycling.
Saige, 11, said people should be recycling instead of “trashing our earth.”
“This is our earth and we should be keeping it clean because this is the only home we have,” she said.
Dancer, who often works with schools, said he has created 250 projects in 42 states and eight countries since he started large-project work in 2000.
Romanelli said Long Beach Middle School students were inspired by some of the work that Long Beach has undertaken toward sustainability and reuse. The city was the first on Long Island to require a fee be charged for disposable plastic bags in stores.