The front lawn of Rochambeau Middle School (RMS) and driveways around the Southbury and Middlebury communities have been planted with inspirational art and messages this spring.
The artwork, part of the “Signs of Hope” movement, is an opportunity to empower local students and families to paint a positive message or piece of art to lift the spirits of the community during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Barbie Granton, whose daughter, Stevie, is a current 7th grader at RMS, initiated the Signs of Hope movement in Region 15. Granton said she was inspired by her friend Chris Tucker in Beacon Falls, who launched a similar program for the kids in his town after being saddened by the empty parks and ball fields this Spring. His efforts have built close to 2000 signs that currently line Main Street in Beacon Falls.
Following Tucker’s lead, Granton approached RMS Principal Michael Bernardi and RMS Assistant Principal Emily Gervasio, and asked if RMS could pioneer a similar project. As a member of the RMS School Climate Committee, a team of parents and RMS staff members who work to foster an inclusive and positive social-emotional learning environment, the project was naturally suited to support students and families during an uncertain time.
Immediately Granton bought wood, a screw gun, and quickly learned how to use the equipment. To date she has individually cut and assembled over 500 signs.
“I love kids and volunteer much of my time as the Pomperaug Youth Softball Recreation League Coordinator and Coach, Girl Scout Troop leader and as part of the Rochambeau Middle School Climate Committee. Covid - 19 not only shut down my employment but all my volunteer time with the kids. My friend Chris is thrilled that ‘Signs of Hope’ was gaining movement in our community. We hope it goes viral. The more the merrier,” said Granton.
RMS has been sharing their message with their school community, posting pictures on the schools Instagram account and have plans to make a video of the photos of the decorated signs. Anyone who has created a sign is encouraged to place it on the lawn of RMS.
“Doing things with the kids brings me joy. This is the next best thing and I hope it brings them joy too,” said Granton.
Any local families who would like to create a sign or help support the project with wood donations or helping hands can contact Barbie Granton at firstname.lastname@example.org.