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New Memorial Elementary School mural was a Gold Award project Elena Papula consulted various age groups on public art project

By Theresa Knapp
When Elena Papula had to choose an issue to address for her Girl Scout Gold Award project, she immediately thought about art and, specifically, the old mural on the Memorial Elementary School playground. 
“Visual art has always been a passion of mine. I plan on studying fine art in college and furthering it as a career,” she said, adding “And public art is important because it can be an outlet for self-expression while building community at the same time.” 
For this project, Papula, who is a member of Milford Girl Scout Troop 11275, enlisted fellow troop members to help prepare and paint the retaining wall, which included pressure-washing to remove remnants of an old mural that was still on the wall. 
Elena presented her plan to Memorial Principal Lisa Burns who approved the plan, and spoke with members of a Brownie troop (ages 7 to 10 years old) to learn what images they would like to have included in the mural. 
“After the Brownies gave me their ideas, I turned to the Community Youth after school program at Memorial,: Elena said. “I met with them a couple times after school, talking to all the age groups. They gave me the main concepts for the mural and drew a couple of images they wanted to be included.”
The final mural, which she was able to transfer with the help of some of the students, includes a space theme, rainbows and butterflies, and a heart with diversity hands. 
At the unveiling of the project in July, Elena gave away art supply goody bags to all the children who attended.  
She said, “Kids immediately started showing engagement with supply bags. Seeing them being inspired to create with their new supplies really showed the impact the project had.”