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Jay Elders and students by the mural

Jay Elders speaks to the crowd
"Seeing how we went from a rough sketch and confused looks to what we achieved was a magical experience," said artist-in-residence Jay Alders (above), who celebrated that achievement with Intermediate East students (left) during a mural (below) unveiling and celebration at the school May 2.

mural panoramic full length from Jay Elders

'The ripple effect of what we do affects everyone'

high five with student and Jay Elders

Jay Alders and one of Intermediate East's student muralists share a high-five in celebration of their finished product.

May 3, 2024: Since February, local artist Jay Alders has been instructing both staff and students at Intermediate East as part of a residency grant program funded by Artists in Education (AIE). At the heart of the artist residency--its culminating project-- is a mural which students have been sketching, designing, and creating for the past several months, under the direction of Alders and art teachers Elisa Waller and Allison Berman.

Yesterday afternoon, as part of a school-wide celebration, that mural was revealed.

There was music, food, and poetry readings by students in Angela Germano's English students who were inspired by Alders and the art that was created. And the mural itself certainly didn't disappoint, providing a 'wow' moment for everyone in attendance. The wall-length artwork of a wave about to crash into shore is as beautiful as it is vibrant.

"The ocean is never still, it's always moving, and so are we," said Waller during a brief presentation, describing what the mural represents. "It's a reminder to our students and to all of us that the ripple effect of what we do affects everyone."

Waller went on to say that the residency is reflected in the mural, something intended for everyone to be a part of, no matter their artistic background or skill. 

"So many people have walked by and said to me, 'Can I see the mural?'" Waller said. "'Of course,' I tell them, 'and now you're a part of it.'"

Michael Reid and Jimmy Cleveland

AIE Manager Michael Roberson Reid, left, chats with Intermediate East Assistant Principal James Cleveland during the mural celebration.

Many organizations collaborated to make the residency and its culminating event happen, including AIE's cosponsors Young Audiences Arts for Learning New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts; the Toms River Education Foundation and its Pride Grant which funded the reveal; and regional partners such as the Grunin Foundation and Count Basie Center for the Arts.

Those organizations were well represented at the unveiling, and included AIE Manager Michael Roberson Reid, Young Audience's Liz Winter and YA President and CEO Michelle Russo, and Grunin Foundation President Jeremy Grunin.

The district's Bridge to the Future program through the NJDOE's Middle Grades grant was also utilized for the residency to fund the integration of the arts and futures aligned with the career clusters.

The event ended with many thank yous, hugs, photos, and congratulations for everyone involved. What’s left now is a lasting, powerful, and signature piece of artwork that will serve to identify Intermediate East for years to come.

Additional photos below.

The Artists in Education Grant Program is a co-sponsored project of Young Audiences Arts for Learning New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. It is carried out in partnership with regional partners, including Count Basie Center for the Arts, and Morris Arts. A special thank you goes to our AIE Partner, Liz Winter of Young Audiences, for her work on this residency.

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