Sharing stories

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A giant artwork started with six students and went on to embrace the whole community

The diversity and spirit of the students and staff at Cheltenham Ladies’ College (CLC), UK, has been brought to life with the construction of a 13m-long, 1.5m-high banner that illustrates the stories that make the school what it is today.

The ‘Our stories’ project, which was initiated by six girls as part of their IB Diploma Programme CAS module, quickly blossomed into a piece of work that embraced the ideas of the whole school.

“The students recognized that hidden among their friends, peers and the school staff was an array of enriching and enlightening tales that needed to be told,” says Jamie Sherriff, the school’s CAS and International Links Coordinator.

“To create this impressive artwork, 1,000 blank postcards were produced. Everyone in the college community took part, from the youngest student to the longest-serving members of staff.” The end result was “colourful, inspiring, amusing and insightful,” says Jamie.

“Students, staff and visitors have been marvelling at the display for weeks. Each time you return to it, you find something new: from treasured pets to messages of peace as well as illustrations of favourite food, national flags and quotes.”

The banner, which features contributions from students of 40 nationalities, asks viewers to consider the shared values that bind a community, how to make the most of international links, and how we view others. “It has also increased our appreciation of the school as a whole, prompting us to recognize that we are made up of a wider community of people without whom we couldn’t function,” says Jamie.

The project was so popular that it was turned into a sell-out poster. “The students also documented its making via photo-sharing website Instagram, and produced a time-lapse video of people viewing the artwork,” says Jamie.

“The students who started the project now plan to look at the stories of our wider community, to promote different cultures and languages and investigate the problem of discrimination.”