PALMER – Forty-seven seniors at Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School painted a mural that is now on the side of the Palmer Big Y store on 1180 Thorndike St., Route 32. The mural consists of 55 hand-painted squares and was unveiled on June 1. Residents can see it right from Thorndike Street, and inside the entrance is a big rendering of the mural with all 47 students’ names listed.
“Everyone was in awe of the mural,” said Art Teacher Darlene Henshaw. “We’re happy that the students got to showcase their skills in a public venue and in a place, that’s going to be seen by so many people every day. I’m proud of all the work they put into it, seeing all of them smiling and pointing out the areas they worked on. They were very excited about being able to leave their mark as seniors on the community.”
The mural is an adaptation of a recently installed mural alongside Big Y’s Fresh and Local Distribution Center in Springfield. It depicts a typical local farm within their region as a way to celebrate agriculture along with Big Y’s longstanding commitment to supporting local farmers and producers throughout their markets. In total, Big Y currently sells local products from over 600 partners who often utilize Big Y’s Fresh and Local Distribution Center to transport their goods to our local stores.
Claire D’Amour-Daley, the Vice President of Corporate Communications at Big Y, said, “We saw this as an opportunity to both enhance the aesthetics of the building by filling in the blank wall along the Route 32 facade and also a chance to work with the local community. Supporting education has always been important to us and this project provided yet another way to connect with local students.”
She continued, “We chose to partner with Pathfinder because it is a local vocational high school and as a way to engage their students in a meaningful and visible community project. Every vehicle that travels along Route 32 will see the work of these 47 seniors who participated in making this mural.”
Pathfinder Tech brings quality vocational technical programs and innovative academics to students from over 25-plus communities.
Last summer, Big Y approached Pathfinder’s Academic Coordinator Dan Whalley who told Henshaw about the project. They went to the site and looked at the place where the mural was going to go. From there, Henshaw received a large 12-foot by 5-foot canvas with the Big Y design. Henshaw divided it into 55 blocks and gave each student a small color sample of what their section looked like. Some students even took on three squares. The seniors started painting their squares in January of 2022 and finished on May 5.
Henshaw told Reminder Publishing the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The best part of the experience for her was having the students become ingrained in the project. As she recalled, during the last couple of weeks when the pieces were starting to come together, the students were beginning to see how many hands in a project can build something beautiful.
“This wasn’t something made from a computer, this mural was made from the students’ hands,” Henshaw responded. “These students just graduated and are going out into the world. They were so proud to leave their imprint on their community.”