Iconography Club creates unity

The proud smiles said it all. The students who created the new painting entitled “Trailblazers,” installed in John Jay High School’s cafeteria this week, beamed as they stood beneath it for photos.

The painting was created by John Jay’s Iconography Club, an initiative led by English as a New Language (ENL) teacher Davis Santiago to bring students in the school’s ENL program together with those in John Jay’s Equity and Racial Justice Club (ERJC).

Davis worked with Staff Developer Candy Wilmot, advisor to ERJC, to identify a project that students would be excited to be part of. “This mural is a permanent representation of pride for marginalized students and serves as an opportunity for all students to learn about the individuals featured in the painting,” said Wilmot.

Making Mural brings students together

A celebration of cultural diversity

Students, family members, teachers and administrators attended the unveiling; the celebration included student remarks and access to the making of the painting through a QR code.

“It’s all about unity,” said sophomore Madison Varriale, one of the students involved, who spoke at the painting’s unveiling.

“Trailblazers” includes a dozen portraits of Americans from underrepresented groups, including Tito Puente, a jazz player of Puerto Rican heritage; Sacagawea, a Shoshone woman who accompanied the Lewis and Clark expedition; and Fred Korematsu, an American civil rights activist who resisted the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. “These individuals impacted, contributed and shaped the historical, cultural and social pillars of the United States of America in their own distinct way,” said Santiago.

Sophomore Jessie Popper highlighted how fun it was to go to Santiago’s ENL classroom during lunch to sketch and paint the artwork.


A wonderful experience

Guerix Mercedes, a junior who moved to Katonah-Lewisboro from the Dominican Republic, said that he didn’t know of most of the people in the painting when he began working on it, but he learned. “I really enjoyed being part of this project,” he said.

Edvin Duarte attended the painting’s unveiling because his brother Everson was one of the students involved in its creation. He and his wife Emily agreed that the making of "Trailblazers" was a wonderful experience for students.