Sarah Riordan hanging the traveling mural

Solomon, for the second consecutive year, is taking part in a global traveling mural with assistance from school librarian Sarah Riordan. The initiative was first brought to Riordan’s attention during her studies when a mentor librarian from Chapman, KS introduced her to a community of other librarians to get inspiration and ideas from. One librarian, Shannon McClintock Miller, based in Iowa, started the project in 2018. Miller’s website highlights the annual participation of over 150 schools worldwide. Each school produces a 10-foot mural on paper, photographs it, and then divides the mural into 10 sections. One section remains with the school, while the remaining sections are dispersed to nine other participating schools in their group by the end of November. Upon receiving all the mural strips from other schools, each participating school showcases the composite mural within their school. The mural’s design is left to the discretion of each school, often based on its state, a children’s book, or other themes of choice.

Last year, Solomon’s design was all about Kansas. Staying similarly on theme, this year, Riordan integrated elements of her classroom lessons into the design. Leveraging lessons on biographies conducted in the library, students learned about Ike Eisenhower, discovering his Kansas origins and contribution to the famous I-70. Coinciding with an upcoming Veterans Day event at the school, Riordan seized the opportunity to add patriotic elements to the banner, drawing inspiration from the US president’s connection to their state. During library visits by different classrooms, students were provided with small pieces of paper to illustrate various patriotic designs. Riordan explained, “We started by reading a biography about Eisenhower, then they each got a small piece of paper. Each grade level did a different patriotic directed drawing, like a bald eagle, a soldier, or an ‘I like Ike’ button.” 

Riordan noted that the students love to see a map that pinpoints the various locations reached by the Solomon banner. While one school in their group hails from Lawrence, Kansas, others such as Alabama, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Indiana, and Massachusetts are also part of the group. Following the banner’s display, the map is positioned beside it, igniting excitement among students as they proudly view it hanging on the wall. When asked about her favorite aspect of the project, Riordan expressed, “I enjoy seeing the final project up on the wall. Knowing that part of what we made is being admired in other schools all over the United States, and showing students that we are part of a bigger community is really great.” The traveling mural will be displayed outside of the school library for the whole school to enjoy.