(Olympic) banner day for students in Langley School District

James Hill Grade 4 student Kalyn Hartmann, 9, proudly displays a banner she designed with the help of art instructor Emilie Colbourne. Colbourne instructed the students but let the children have a free creative rein in welcoming the world.

Sixty-seven banners that are about to be hung throughout the community will not only be an Olympic eye-opener, but will also serve to illustrate the amazing talent of the students who created them.

On Tuesday, three of the 67 students who painted the banners were presented to the Langley Board of Education. The students were Gabrielle Perry of Shortreed Elementary, whose creation was a stellar jay banner, Ethan Tarasenko of Langley Fine Arts School, who painted a nature scene, and Alex Hope Elementary student Gelica Cully, whose banner featured a snowboarder. The banners had been hung behind the trustees.

Organizer Kerry Querns, a teacher at Topham Elementary, said that the project took 10 months “and it was worth every minute of it.”

It was Topham student Gabe Smith whose catchphrase appears at the bottom of every banner: Welcome World — We’re glad to see you.

And the world will catch a glimpse of the banners, which will be hung along the Olympic torch relay route, when the torch passes through Langley on Feb. 8.

Querns said that teachers from 16 elementary schools were asked to pick a few students to paint a banner. Guided by instructor Emilie Colbourne, the children designed, coloured and drew their own banners. They attended workshops led by Colbourne, but they came up with their own designs and did all the artwork themselves.

The banners were painted in oil pastels with a medium called gouache.

“I was blown away by the talent of the young artists in this community,” Colbourne told trustees.

The project had the financial backing of the Langley School District Foundation whose executive director, Susan Cairns, commented that the organization “is incredibly proud to be able to support such an amazing project. The children’s art will be seen by the whole world. It is such a great legacy for the students and parents of Langley.”

Trustees were impressed. “An absolutely amazing job,” said Trustee Alison McVeigh.

The project was also supported by The Flag Shop which printed the banners, teachers from the elementary schools who took part in the project, and staff at the Langley Centennial Museum, the City and Township of Langley, and the school district.

After the Olympics, the students will be offered the chance to buy the banners, which cost $100 to produce, for $50.