Flowers were blooming down one of the hallways at Franklin Elementary School this week.

And helping bring them to life were nearly 300 students from the school’s art classes.

Thanks to a program known as the Ten Thousand Flowers Project created by a Pennsylvania artist, students, staff and volunteers had the opportunity to paint on a plain white wall at Franklin Elementary and turn it into a colorful mural of flowers.

Not only did the painting brighten the hallway, but the finished product also served as a connection to other schools across the country participating in the project.

Tim Gibson, who grew up in a small town near Pittsburgh, came up with the idea for the Ten Thousand Flowers Project in 2018, when officials with his hometown of Perkasie were seeking an artist to paint something colorful on a retaining wall there. 

“I pitched this idea to paint the flowers and they would fill in colors, kind of like paint by numbers,” Gibson, 26, explained. “After developing that first pitch, I figured this could be something more than just a one-off project. So I did two more in my hometown.”

FES Flowers 1

Franklin Elementary School provided 72 of the 10,000 flowers on the project.

That led to the concept of connecting more than one hundred communities with a running theme of flower-covered murals painted on walls, buildings, fences and other structures. He is currently focusing on schools, and that’s what led him to Franklin Elementary and art teacher Jennifer Alvarado.

She had read about his project on his Instagram page, and contacted him about a year ago to suggest Franklin Elementary as a participating school.

“I feel like my passion is to try to bring projects to our schools and give our students an experience they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise,” Alvarado said as she led another group of students to begin painting. “So being able to have a working artist come and work with our students is, to me, really empowering. It shows them the ability to make a living making art, but also to create something beautiful as we’re working together.

“He was willing to come work with us, and we’re super-excited to have him.” 

Gibson had arrived in Franklin last week to begin prepping the walls, sketching out the flower designs and creating a giant paint-by-numbers. Students from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade then did the painting Monday and Tuesday this week, and Gibson stayed a couple more days to add finishing touches.

“The final project will then become part of the Ten Thousand Flowers Project and be a beautiful, lasting legacy at our school,” Alvarado said.

“The kids have been so excited to paint and they have really been looking forward to this project as a way to bring our whole school together.”

Funds for this special project were made possible by a 2019 fundraiser concert for related arts projects and hosted by Franklin Elementary parents Jay and Mark O’Shea, who together form the contemporary country music duo O’Shea.

Click here for more information about the project.