Art and Service Come Together with Banneker Blacktop Design Challenge

By Julie Fisher, Fine Arts Department Chair

This pandemic has taught us that being apart is not an excuse to remain disconnected. In fact, reaching out and maintaining our commitment to helping others is more important now than ever before. That is why I jumped at an opportunity to serve our neighboring elementary school.
My children attend Banneker Elementary just a few miles up the road and their principal sent out a request for help creating stencils. The school’s goal is to use stenciling to paint their entire blacktop with interactive learning paths that utilize various locomotor skills such as hopping, spinning, balancing, and running. The designs are also meant to provide spaces for their teachers to customize these paths with content from their daily lessons. The idea is to get students outside and actively engaged with their learning. 

Foxcroft’s Innovation Lab, and the fact that the majority of our student body is already trained on a laser cutter with the capacity to cut any shape or design imaginable, immediately came to mind. This request was also a reminder that as a school, we are dedicated to service-learning and collaboration within and outside of the Foxcroft community. I also realized that our WeekendMISSION program would be the perfect way to engage our students. This program — modified from our previous week-long WinterMISSION — provides students and faculty alike with fun and unique learning opportunities outside of our regular academic routines. WeekendMISSION runs all year long, which provides the time needed to piece together this enormous and important project. 

True to form, our community rose to the challenge with nearly 30 volunteers offering to help. Four separate design teams were then created and asked to generate a wide array of graphic examples for review by the Banneker team. Foxcroft’s design teams are now tasked with determining the scale and overall layout for this interconnected system of pathways. 

Once Foxcroft’s design is finalized, students will laser cut stencils. Those stencils will be used to guide the paint application to Banneker’s blacktop. The design teams are scheduled to visit the school on Earth Day, April 22, which happens to land during our Arts Week, to layout the template. This project is the perfect example of how we can bridge creativity with giving back to our community while providing a deeply meaningful learning experience for students here at Foxcroft as well as Banneker Elementary School.
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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.