To revitalize a forgotten Arboretum in Auburn, students at Swanson Road Intermediate School collaborated with New York City based artist, Morgan Blair, to create a mural made up of leaf shapes. Students unveiled the mural at a celebration on Saturday, April 29th.

New York City based artist, Morgan Blair, meets with students at Swanson Road Intermediate School in Auburn on Friday to discuss the leaf shapes used in her most recent mural. (Submitted Photo)

On Friday, Blair explained to students, “I found out you were learning about the Arboretum and identifying which leaves go with which trees. We thought that might make an interesting set of shapes to use in design. I was sent photos of you guys holding the leaves up to show me the shapes, and I thought I might use the hands in my mural to relate to your class, and your school, and yourselves.” In preparation for Blair’s visit, a group of students visited one of her murals painted for Pow! Wow! Worcester at Mechanics Hall. Blair came to this project thanks to a grant awarded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Grade 4 student, Evan Baviello, clears brush in an effort to beautify the Arboretum at Saturday’s event. (Submitted Photo)

During the event on Saturday, 200 families from the town of Auburn turned out to learn about the mysterious Arboretum, which was planted by a beloved Science teacher, James L. Courville, in the 1970’s. Courville and his students had worked tirelessly to fill in a dirt pit left behind from a house adjacent to the school that had been demolished. He and his students planted 25 unique species of trees, most of which still remain in the Arboretum today. Courville’s untimely death during a 1979 scuba diving expedition resulted in the Arboretum’s virtual abandonment until now. Courville’s family was in attendance for the celebration.

To learn more about the next steps for the Arboretum, contact Sarah Connell from Auburn Public Schools at sconnell@auburn.k12.ma.us.