WILMINGTON -- When the bell rang just before 3 p.m., a group of students walked past the newly installed mosaic murals and paintings, smiling at their own creations.

"The students like seeing their contribution and seeing the connection between the mosaic and paintings," said Twin Valley Elementary School art teacher Marian Lyndgaard. "They like being able to see their own work displayed in public."

There were some new walls in the building that had been constructed before school started. It was part of the efforts to expand the Twin Valley school systems to include Whitingham and Wilmington students.

In her second year teaching at the building, which used to be known as the Deerfield Valley Elementary and only housed students from Wilmington, Lyndgaard thought a project to enhance the new walls would be a great way to kick off the school year.

Linda Whelihan, who had completed a similar project at Dover School at the end of last school year, was hired through a grant made available by the Vermont Arts Council. She had told Lyndgaard of the possibility for a collaboration.

"We wanted to make this space interesting," said Lyndgaard. "It was blank."

A big painting is on the wall near the main entrance, behind which sits the library. It is located in the hall on the way to where the 4th and 5th grade classes are held. On the adjacent wall, various tiles were hung, with a theme chosen by students: "Growing Innovators Who Change the World!"

Children from every grade, kindergarten through 5th grade, were given worksheets to fill out. The questions on it asked what that phrase meant to them, what subjects do Twin Valley Elementary students excel in and what makes their community special.

Once the sheets were handed in, Whelihan held planning then work sessions during regular art class periods. Some members of the faculty even chipped in, assisting with creating tiles or painting.

"Everyone had really positive feelings about it," said Lyndgaard.

The project began on Oct. 29 and it was supposed to be completed by Thanksgiving. But Whelihan did not stop showing up at the school until all the art was hung properly.

Lyndgaard mentioned a custodian who was also helpful in this part of the process, making sure it all went up safely.

One of the goals of the project was to create something that would last and not become outdated.

"We wanted them to be able to come back in 20 years and see their name and work on the wall," said Lyndgaard. "Every kid was able to participate. Each student would make a tile and paint on the wall."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.