A colorful new mural is in the works at Andover High School, highlighting the town's global connections through portraits, places and icons.

The idea for the mural was spearheaded by Jessica Daviso, an art teacher at Andover High School for the past three years.

To kick off the months-long project, Daviso asked students to draw pictures of what Andover means to them. From restaurants they love in town to their favorite places to hangout with friends, many of the ideas made their way into the mural.

"We wanted to make it really feel like we were talking about the people of Andover," said Daviso.

She partnered with mural artist David Fichter for the project. Fichter often collaborates with schools to paint murals, noting he has worked with more than 250 schools over the last 30 years.

Fichter created the overall design for the mural, which includes the original elements generated from the brainstorming and drawing sessions held by Daviso in the early stages of the project.

The mural, which covers a wall on the second floor of the high school, includes a mill-wheel in the center with the statement: "Drops of water turn a mill, singly none, singly none. Think globally, act locally."

The water flowing through the mill wheel transforms into a quilt. The pattern of the quilt is made up of the United Nation's sustainable development goals, which are global goals the UN developed to fight pressing world problems, such as pollution, poverty and women's rights, Daviso said.

Daviso said the goals are phrased in a way that suggests their completion. For example, one quilt square says "no poverty" as opposed to "end poverty."

The mural also features prominent figures who are a part of Andover's rich history. Among them are abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Ann Bradstreet, known as the first American poet. The AHS marching band is also highlighted in the mural.

A noteworthy piece of the mural are paintings of national birds from different countries flying across the top right, representing countries that many AHS students call home.

"To talk about the global connections of Andover we really wanted to represent all the different people that live here," said Daviso. "We didn't want to do that in a really straightforward way ... . We decided that since our mascot is this golden eagle, we would use that as sort of the stand in for Andover."

About 60 students have collectively worked on the mural, with different levels of involvement ranging from brainstorming ideas to painting.

Students who were heavily involved in the project have their portraits painted inside the mill wheel. Two of those students are Kathryn Oberg, 17, president of the National Art Honor Society, and Ethan Paulo, 16, vice president of the National Art Honor Society.

Oberg said she has enjoyed getting to work alongside Fichter and has gained a lot of knowledge on Andover's diverse history. Her favorite part of the mural to paint was the golden eagle.

Paulo moved to Andover from Ohio in summer 2018.

"It's a whole new experience for me getting to know Andover," said Paulo. "It's fun to learn about the different culture and history in town."

The two said they anticipate their peers will enjoy passing by the mural on their way to classes, and hope it encourages other students to get more involved in the arts.

Daviso said the mural is painted on a canvas that is attached to the wall with wallpaper paste, allowing it to be removed and reinstalled in a new space if necessary. With plans for a new high school in the works, the mural would be able to safely transfer to a new location.

Daviso said she hopes the mural will be complete by the end of the school year.

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