Austin ISD’s Maplewood Elementary is thrilled to announce its 65th anniversary year with an unveiling celebration for a new piece of public art on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 8 a.m. Located at 3808 Maplewood Ave., the event will take place in front of the school’s entrance where the sculpture is located and will be open to the public and current and former students. Attending AISD representatives will be announced.
Maplewood is an elementary school for grades pre-K through sixth located in East Austin. Opening in 1952, the school is known for its diverse student body and its motto “Increase the Peace.” The school is rated exemplary in the areas of overall performance, the fine arts, wellness and physical education, community and parental involvement, digital learning environment, dropout prevention strategies, educational programs for gifted and talented students, its Second Language Acquisition Program and its 21st Century Workforce Development Program.
The school is celebrating its 65th year with the installation of “Peace Sculpture” by local artist Chris Levack. The piece was donated by Maplewood parents Daniel Colimon and Jennifer Rappoport, whose son Nicolas Colimon
“The peace sculpture honors the school’s efforts to teach students to be peacemakers in our world,” said Vickie Jacobson, Maplewood Principal. “It’s exciting to think about 65 years of educating Austin’s children, and to know we are still providing the very best education for all of our students each day! I’m looking forward to celebrating our amazing 65th year!”
Each school year, Maplewood students make the “Peacemaker Pledge” at the beginning of the year. The pledge is: “I promise to do my best to treat everyone fairly, be kind to everyone – even if they are not like me. If I see someone being hurt or bullied, I will act as an ally if I feel safe or report it to an adult. Everyone should feel safe and happy at our school.” The school’s goal is to promote peaceful, inclusive behaviors between students, parents and all members of the community, and it has earned a “No Place for Hate” distinction from the Anti-Defamation League for five consecutive years.
“Teaching core social emotional skills are the foundation of the teaching that our staff does each day,” said Kelli Kirk, Maplewood School Counselor. “We work to help students become self aware, regulate their emotions, make responsible decisions, and in turn, become more socially aware and empathetic. What could be more important than raising children who bring those skills into the world as adults?”
When asked “What does it mean to be a Peacemaker?” Maplewood first graders had this to say:
“It means helping people, helping people solve problems and helping people who are being mean to be nice to each other.” – Amelia.
“To be kind, help people and stop bullying.” – Anthony.
“To share and be thankful.” – Joseph.
Maplewood Elementary has been lauded as a beautifully diverse representation of Austin, offering dual-language learning and an incorporation of the arts into all of its classes. The school’s mission statement, “to develop the WHOLE child – one who feels valued and is successful within a cooperative, safe learning environment,” resonates in the lessons taught in and events held out of the classroom. One of the key attributes of Maplewood is the focus on Social Emotional Learning (SEL), which can be seen daily in the school’s “Peacemaker” awards program where students are recognized for courageous behavior during morning assembly.
Parent’s David and Priscilla Boston’s sons attended Maplewood in the ‘90s, when the “Increase the Peace” program was first implemented. She remembers how much they valued their Peacemaker awards and said the program “was a real asset to their education. I think it really stuck. They’ve incorporated what they learned into how they interact with family, friends and coworkers.”
“Working closely with our staff and parents and the community, we strive each day to ensure that every child is confident, successful and respected,” said Vickie Jacobson, Maplewood Principal.
Maplewood also hosts a number of events throughout the year such as Fall Fest, Spring Fling, Mustang Stampede Fun Run, Parent Prom and more. It is a resource to the surrounding community, serving as an official polling location and the venue for the annual Cherrywood Art Fair, one of Austin’s most cherished holiday markets. For more information on Maplewood Elementary, please see www.maplewoodelementary.com.
About Chris Levack
Chris Levack is a sculptor who works primarily on large-scale outdoor artwork. Inspired by the Texas landscape, he has specialized in materials that withstand the elements such as architectural terra cotta, copper and exterior woods. He created “Pollen Grain” and “Wigwam” on the Mueller Southwest Greenway. He has two daughters who graduated from Maplewood. For more information, please see www.texassculpture.com.
About Caitlin B. Alexander
Caitlin B. Alexander is an illustrator based in East Austin with a particular love for dry-brush gouache painting. Both her life and work are heavily influenced by the aesthetics of the ‘40s, ’50s and ’60s. She fancies herself a collector of memories as much as a collector of things and enjoys bringing this sense of nostalgia to her audience. For more information, please see www.cbaillustration.com.