Christopher Farms Elementary celebrated its LOVEwork sign dedication
–by Svetla Tomanova
Christopher Farms Elementary School (CFES) unveiled its own life-size LOVE artwork on its school grounds. The dedication was held May 17 in front of beaming students, staff and families. Others on hand for the unveiling included Superintendent Aaron Spence and Paula Miller with Dominion Energy – the project’s funding partner.
The artwork is an extension of the “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan and one of the 300 LOVEwork signs sprinkled around the state – a perfect photo op for visitors, residents and families.
Dr. Spence congratulated CFES for their remarkable work on this project and posed the question, “Is there a better time in our world, in our country, in our community and our schools for love?”
When Parthena Savides, a CFES fourth grade teacher, introduced this concept to her students back in February, they were immediately captivated by it. Savides explained, “The students latched onto this idea to make their LOVEwork sign in hopes of preserving the community’s stories.”
Savides and her fourth-graders worked diligently and were instrumental in bringing this project to fruition. Under her guidance, her team researched the history of the area surrounding CFES and applied that knowledge to the design. Then, they wrote a persuasive paper explaining the reasoning behind their design and even crafted a budget.
After the funding was secured through the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation Environmental Education and Stewardship grants program, to make the idea a reality further work was needed. Bowman’s Woodworking volunteered to build the structure and install the letters, and the Salem High School Art Academy painted the sign and the colorful murals.
“We were very excited when the CFES grant proposal came across our desks,” explained Paula Miller. “We knew this environmental project was a perfect candidate for our program. There are a lot of LOVE sings across the Commonwealth of Virginia; however, this one is different – it has motifs based on students’ ideas and it’s a true community engagement project.”
Each LOVEwork creation is a reflection of the community where it’s placed, and the CFES LOVE sign is no exception.
The L is a little library with a painted mural of horse farmland to preserve the learning and the history of Christopher Farms. The O is another mural for the ocean – a reflection of the local beaches. The V is for beauty and elegance; it includes a plant as well as 3-D printed shapes replicating a honeycomb to show the innovation of learning and the work of the students in preserving local plants and animals. Finally, the E represents how we communicate with people; it has the signatures of every staff and student to preserve the community of this neighborhood school. On the back, there is a chalkboard to leave positive messages.
These same enthusiastic fourth-graders chose to install the sign on the side of the school that faces Holland Road because this is a road that “many tourists travel down on their way to Sandbridge.” They also created fictional invitations to welcome Superintendent Dr. Spence and local members to celebrate this ninth LOVEwork addition to the City of Virginia Beach.
“I am so impressed with the hard work and creativity of my students,” Savides reflected. “My students were in awe of their work. I know they are going to remember this real-world experience for the years to come.”
As for the students, this labor of love served as a life lesson: They realized that when one wants to accomplish something “it takes a lot of hard work, kindness and responsibilities.”
The CFES LOVEwork sign was built as part of a state and local partnership to promote travel and tourism as well as bring the community together. Here’s a look at the other LOVEwork signs that are popping up around the state.
Be sure to share your CFES LOVEwork photos on social media using #LOVEVA, #Coltspride, @cfescolts, and #vbschools.