When the Peck School building is demolished later this fall, it will pave the way for construction of a new middle school to serve about 550 students in grades 6-8. While the new building will significantly improve the learning environment for students, many are also feeling the loss of a community icon that has played an important role for Holyoke students for almost half a century.
“We are finding ways to preserve the heartfelt memories from Peck School that are shared by many in the community,” said HPS Superintendent Anthony Soto. “It is especially important for our students and their families to honor everyone who participated in creating the two murals that have been on display at the exterior entrance to the Peck School since 2010. One of the things that makes Holyoke so special is the way that our students contribute to the community, as students and as alumni.”
While it will not be possible to remove and preserve the two murals from the exterior of the building prior to demolition, HPS staff have documented the artwork in images and video, which can be seen here.
New York City-raised ceramic artist Judith Inglese documented the history of the ceramic-tile murals in a blog post she created on August 20, 2010. Earlier that spring, she had served as a consultant and collaborator for an after-school program for middle school students who were working on a permanent mural with their art teacher Darcy Dumont. “The mural portrays the full service nature of the school,” Ms. Inglese wrote in her blog. “There are images of sports, parent participation, club activities, health care, academic classes and cultural experiences.”
Each tile represents a person at the school or moment in time that the students wanted to memorialize. Once completed, the murals were installed at the exterior entrance to Peck School by Ms. Inglese and Ms. Dumont, and they have been on display at the school since that time.