Neenah High School students create ‘Open Hearts, Open Minds’ mobile mural

From the Local 5 Digital Desk

NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) – Art brings people together.

Neenah High School students are working on a big project. They’re creating a mural for their new school that will open in 2023.

“We wanted to focus on positive conversations that you have so a lot of these tiles have positive messages or words that the students wanted to share with people visiting the school and kind of what they wanted to share with their friends,” says art teacher Lisa Dorschner.

The mural’s theme is “Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Dorschner says there are roughly more than 2,000 tiles on the mural, adorned with powerful phrases like, “discover, keep going, and be kind.”

The project was a labor of love for the entire school. Staff started planning over a year ago, and in the fall started working with Connie Greany, a clay artist who served as the artist-in-residence for the project.

Everyone from freshman to seniors worked on the mural, even those learning remotely. Parents of students learning from home picked up ceramic supplies from the school.

“We all tried to do different leaf shapes,” says Max Dikfuss, a junior at Neenah. “I didn’t think they were going to involve the whole school in a big effort like this. It brought the whole school together to make something pretty awesome.”

The mural is almost finished, there are only a few tiles left that need to be cleaned before being sealed. Students each worked on individual pieces of the mural. They started working on the mural in January, and it was revealed during the last week of school. Students say they are pleasantly surprised at how the final product turned out.

“It was kind of refreshing especially after COVID, there wasn’t much social interaction, especially through school, and this kind of helped bring the whole school together,” says Dikfuss.

“I did a sunset on mine, says Gabe Theisen. “I didn’t realize that you could use all these tiles and make a surface like this. I thought it was going to be a flat mural, but it kind of just pops out and catches your eye.”

The new Neenah High School was approved as part of a $114.9 million referendum by district voters in April. For more information on Neenah High School, click here.

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