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When students return this fall to North Davis Preparatory Academy, a Spanish-immersion middle school in Layton, they will be greeted with artwork and lots of color.

The school has two new pieces of art — a mosaic mural outside and large acrylic painting inside — that were unveiled on May 25, the last day of the school year.

The mosaic mural, which now makes up the building's facade, was an idea presented by teacher Chantal Esquivias from Spain who thought the school's entrance could use a face lift.

With the help of a mosaic artist and the students, one of the largest mosaic art pieces in Utah was created.

The students were included throughout the entire process helping brainstorm ideas for the artwork and learning the history of mosaic art.

"These mosaics will show how our Charter school, NDPA, is different from an average school, a place where Spanish and Hispanic culture is learned, taught and lived," Esquivias said.

Initially, sketches were made by the students based on the book "Fairy Tales from Spain," by J. Munoz Escamez they read in their literature course.

"We read stories and had to figure out how we were going to draw pictures to incorporate stories. It was interesting to see the differences between our fairy tales and ones in Spain," said 12-year-old artist Lexie Bazzano.

Community artist Roger Whiting began working with the students in September designing and assembling the artwork. The students made the sketches and Whiting created a collage of them. In May, the students and Whiting had spent about 60 hours installing the project.

Funding for the project was provided by Art Access Utah, in connection with the Utah State Office of Education Special Education Services Unit. Additional support funding for the project was supplied by the school and POET, the school's parent organization.

Kids from Esquivias and Lidia Pascual's classes provided most of the student labor.

The students helped with all the steps including mortaring, grouting and sealing. The pillars where the mosaic was placed are quite tall.

"We used extension ladders and not enough fear of death to reach the top," Whiting joked.

The project brought the students closer together.

"It's a big thing to be able to work with friends and people who know how to put things together," said 13-year-old Andra Emmertson. "It's important to experience things like this in life and make our school a better place."

The second piece of artwork completed was a 6-foot by 6-foot acrylic painting that will be displayed inside the school.

Lee Madrid, a muralist and portrait painter, worked with the students to create the piece. The mural is full of symbolism — including a tree and roots representing the convergence of American, Spanish and Mexican cultures within the school. The students spent two months working on the mural.

The mural includes portraits of students from the school. A picture of Mt. Rushmore portrays the faces of the student government. Students from the orchestra are painted as part of a mariachi band.

"It was awesome these students in particular were full of ideas. They were very considerate of each other and worked well together," Madrid said. "We created a really cheerful tone, while at the same time making it look very professional."