Amherst Rotary, parents help give Wildwood School cafeterias a face-lift
Artist Sophie Theroux with one of her murals in the Wildwood Elementary School in Amherst. Purchase photo reprints »
AMHERST — Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Rotary Club of Amherst, a volunteer parent group is renovating Wildwood Elementary School’s cafeterias and dining courtyard to better accommodate the multipurpose spaces also used for music instruction, performances and an after-school program.
The three cafeterias, which project organizer Susan Rupp said had become grim and uninviting over the years, are being transformed into bright, cheerful, organized areas. The rooms were designed as lunch rooms in 1970, but have taken on additional uses, she said, including becoming the home of the band and orchestra programs. The cafeterias, she said, are filled with music equipment along with the toys, games and other supplies used by the after-school program. New storage areas will enhance the rooms, she said.
Working in collaboration with Amherst schools staff and with the help of donations from local businesses, the improvements include three large-scale murals by artist Sophie Theroux, room dividers, lighting and dining tables.
Each cafeteria has its own color and theme: red for an autumn theme, green for the Connecticut River Valley, and blue for under the sea, Rupp said. “The murals are stunning,” she said.
Volunteers have been doing the work under the guidance of Ron Bohonowitz, director of facilities and maintenance for the schools, whose staff has assisted with painting and electrical work. “The school department has been phenomenal,” Rupp said, providing time and resources to the project, which is about half-finished.
New lighting has been installed and the painting in two of the rooms has been completed, she said. Dining tables and storage units will likely arrive in September, she said.
The courtyard has been cleared of overgrown weeds and will be transformed into a courtyard dining garden for students by Whirlwind Landscape Design of Amherst. Another business contributor is Cowls Building Supply, which donated paint, Rupp said.
The nonprofit group Friends of Wildwood Cafeteria is still seeking donations of paving materials and plantings for the courtyard. Those interested may contact Susan Rupp at 549-7838.