Peace and Harmony tile murals celebrated at Boyertown Middle School

The Peace mural was made from old found tiles. The tiles forming the hand, the dove, and the balloon were hand sculpted from clay. The students had to learn how to cut glass as well. Back Row, left to right: Mary Holowis, Bill Scheck, retired art teacher, Rebecca Elder, Jake Hulswit, Dolores Kerschner, Clay on Main, Karen and Adam Lapinski, Mary’s parents. Front row, left to right: Celina Archer and Grace Fennimore.

Taking a quick moment to step back to the school year 2008-2009, a group of students in Boyertown West’s Jr. High Select Crafts Club decided to craft two mosaic tile murals and call them Peace and Harmony. Splitting into two groups, one group was to work on Harmony while the other worked on Peace. The students realized that they would not be able to finish both murals in time and thus concentrated their efforts on Harmony. Although the story began with Harmony, Peace would follow with its installation at the middle school January 2014.

The mural, Peace, was designed by Mary Lapinski and Jake Hulswit and was thought to be a project that would be forgotten as the students moved on. Lapinski was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer known as embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma; she was 17 at the time. The following year, Mary passed on May 23, 2012.

According to Dolores Kirschner, Lapinski’s aunt, at Mary’s memorial service, Hulswit showed her a scrap of paper he had in his pocket; it was Mary’s design for the Peace mural.

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“He told me he wished he could do it and I said I’ll help you do it at the studio,” said Kirschner, owner of Clay on Main Studio, Oley. “After she died and until they went to college, they came to the studio and they designed it, they finished it, they did all the work. A whole year passed because they were in college and now they’re finishing.”

“We designed that together. She drew up most of the design and I just thought that it was a shame, thinking back on it how we became friends, and I realize that was never really done and I feel like that would be something that we could do to finish; that would be awesome for her,” said Hulswit.

Sitting on a stool at the table where they had been working on the mosaic, Sarah Koren said, “I think how happy she would be to see us even just coming together to do something in her honor not just that it was hers originally. Even if it wasn’t hers, she would be happy that we’re all getting together still; she was all about the friendship.”

“It makes me feel happy that she would be happy if she were here. It reminds me of her; it’s a good memory,” said Hulswit.

After Peace was installed at Boyertown West Jr. High, a ceremony was held January 2014 in which a plaque was presented with the names of all the students who had worked on the project as well as a special thanks to those who also helped.

“It’s been a long time, but good things do take time,” said Bill Scheck, retired art teacher. “It’s been a real pleasure working with these fine students. I think it’s a testament to Mary and the kind of friends that she had.”

“I was determined to make sure, however long it took, it got done and obviously we couldn’t have done it without all the help that we had,” said Hulswit.

Remembering one of Mary’s favorite quotes by Tolstoy, Hulswitt said they picked out a quote she also liked that was befitting for the mosaic mural:

“If you love me as you say you do,” she whispered, “make is so that I am at peace.”

According to Gregory Galtere, principal, the school is home to numerous works of art made throughout the years. It gives a chronological timeline of the school’s place in history.

“This particular mural is always going to stand out to me because of its circumstances,” said Galtere. “To be honest with you, I really didn’t expect it to be completed because when the decision was made, it was a very emotional time and that it’s easy for those things to kind of slip as time passes. It’s a real tribute to Mary that she had such good friends that followed through with this. I just really want to complement all of you. That says volumes about all of you that worked on it. I want to congratulate you.”

When Galtere gives tours of the school in the future, there will be a little more attention given to this particular mural. Scheck added that while it may not be the biggest mural they ever made, it is probably one of the most profound.

The mosaic tile mural entitled, Peace, was crafted by the dedicated friends of Mary Lapinski, who had designed the piece as an art club project in the ninth grade in 2008. It was to accompany the first mosaic tile mural, Harmony, the students worked on and completed. Lapinski was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer known as embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma in her junior year and passed May 2012 just before her graduation. After graduation, a group of dedicated friends led by Jake Hulswitt got together in her honor and completed the second mural at Clay on Main Studio which is owned by Dolores Kerschner, Lapinski’s aunt. Once completed, Peace was installed not far from Harmony at Boyertown West Jr. High and a dedication ceremony was held with the presentation of a plaque honoring those who contributed to the mural. The plaque read as follows:

Peace

2012 – 2014

“If you love me as you say you do,” she whispered, “make is so that I am at peace.” –Leo Tolstoy.

Mary Lapinski

Jake Hulswit

Sarah Koren

Rebecca Elder

Connor Antrim

Shane Bender

Nate Kendsersky

Mary Holowis

Celina Archer

Alissa Janoski

Josh Moser

Elizabeth Seymour

Grace Fennimore

Rachel Hulswit

Special thanks to Bill Scheck, Vic Umstead, Denny Rock, Dolores Kirschner, Clay on Main Studio, and Junior High West.