Photo by Alan Dumoff
Sister Shamus Zehrer, principal, talks to students during the Feb. 1 dedication ceremony. Also pictured is Father Joseph Pham, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish.
Walking up the steps to the second floor of Our Lady Star of the Sea School, just before reaching the first landing, one can see a fresh mural on the wall that illustrates the relationship the Atlantic City school has had in its 102 years of existence with the surrounding ocean community.
A lighthouse shines as a beacon of hope in the sea, while nearby a ship marked “OLSS” navigates the waters. Our Lady of Mercy, possibly a nod to the Sisters of Mercy religious order who have staffed the school for many years, holds baby Jesus, who in turn is holding the world. A rosary with its bright red beads encapsulates the entire mural.
This work of art, called the “Centennial Mural,” was dedicated at the school on Feb. 1, during Catholic Schools Week, in front of students, parents and faculty and administration. Father Joseph Pham, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, led the dedication.
Also in attendance were the board of trustees of the Marty Wilson, Jr. Art and Music Foundation, which provided a grant to help with the creation of the mural.
In 2008, during the school’s centennial, Our Lady Star of the Sea’s sixth grade class decided to start the mural to remember the school’s 100th birthday. For the past two years, the 23 students, now eighth graders, have envisioned the design, created a model of the mural on a computer, and, finally, used plywood and paint to finish the work.
The students worked on their mural during their time in Friday art classes with the help of artist Charlie Bessman.
“I’m extremely proud of the students, and grateful to the foundation for their help,” said Sister Shamus Zehrer, principal.
She added, “The mural has given the eighth grade students a sense of pride, while motivating other students, who now ask, ‘What can I give to the school?’ and want to find that same self-satisfaction, and motivation.”
Our Lady Star of the Sea School first opened in 1908. It is the only Catholic school in Atlantic City.