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East // East Oahu Coverstory
Jaimie Kim

Mural Creates Flurry Of Art At Koko Head

Koko Head Elementary School students, brushes in hand, crowd around professional artist Steve Barton - with student council president Reagan Wood on his right and Makayla Wolensky on his left - to finish a blue-toned tropical mural on the school wall in the Cobras' first 'everybody paints' project. Photo by Leah Friel, lfriel@midweek.com.

Future Koko Head Elementary students can thank its current occupants for the mural that’s been added to the campus, largely because of the vision and persistence of its student council president.

With the support of the school and financial help from Tabora Gallery, fifth-grader Reagan Wood put the plan in motion.

“She wanted to brighten up the campus with a colorful wall so that students would have a cheerful start to their day,” explained her mother, Anne Wood, who also directs the gallery. “Her advisers told us her goals were very ambitious, but she was determined.”

Reagan contacted California-based artist Steve Barton, who found it impossible to say no. Known for a bright and playful style that Reagan felt kids could relate to, he recruited artist Juno Galang to assist with detail work.

Following their president’s theme of “everybody paints,” Barton led 320 students, staff and even principal Jeffrey Shitaoka to create it over 10 hours starting Jan. 28.

The project also taught students about using art as an outlet, especially those with learning disabilities. Having dyslexia himself, Barton could relate and was someone they began to gravitate to. “Many students confided in Steve that they had trouble learning or were dyslexic, and that the time spent with him made them feel special,” said Anne.

The pride of involvement was evident, she noted, as they would point out exactly what they painted to their parents, teachers and friends. And on a more personal level, Anne has her own feelings of pride for Reagan. “She is not dissuaded by the possibility of being turned down, and that is really impressive.”

President Reagan already is planning her next project: an “everybody plays” sports day.

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