Beautifying New Bern High School – One Wall at a Time


Three years ago, Craven County School’s Career and Technical Education Program
(CTE) implemented a new course offering for its students entitled Public Safety and Firefighter
Technology at two of the district’s traditional high schools. Mr. Ed Bader was hired by Principal
Jerry Simmons to serve as the instructor for New Bern High School’s program in the fall of
2014. As a lateral entry teacher (lateral entry is an “alternate” route, for qualified individuals
outside of the public education system, that allows one to gain employment as a teacher while
simultaneously obtaining a professional educator’s license), Mr. Bader was able to bring his
prior expertise in public safety and firefighting into the classroom. Since his hiring, Mr. Bader
has developed the program from scratch and has partnered with local fire departments in order
to provide his students with real-world hands-on experiences. Additionally, those students who
successfully complete this program are eligible to receive North Carolina State Certification and
use it to join volunteer fire departments while still enrolled in high school.

When setting up his new classroom, Mr. Bader determined that the space, once used for
the old graphics design course, needed a face lift in order to best represent this new program.
The first area of need, according to Mr. Bader, was a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Shortly
before the start of the 2015-2016 school year, Principal Simmons made a visit to Mr. Bader’s
room. Upon seeing the freshly, yet plainly painted room, he suggested that one of the walls be
decorated with a mural related to firefighting to depict the rapidly growing program. Thus, Mr.
Bader contacted one of New Bern High School’s talented visual arts instructors, Mr. Christopher
Bennett and the two immediately began collaborating to determine a design that would bring life
to the classroom and best represent the purpose of the program.
It was decided that the history of New Bern and its fire department should be the focus
of the mural. After searching the internet for ideas, Mr. Bader stated that he “found a picture of
New Bern’s City Hall…and the idea hit [him], a picture of City Hall with a horse drawn steam fire
engine racing down the street going to a fire”. He then sent Mr. Bennett the picture of City Hall
along with several images of horse drawn steam fire engines and Mr. Bennett’s Art students
eagerly began practicing techniques and brainstorming ways to incorporate the two. Mr.
Bennett stated that students were required to work according to the ideas and imagery supplied
by Mr. Bader as well as develop techniques for painting on a large scale while incorporating
what they had learned in their art courses. Work began this past April and while students in Mr.
Bennett’s Art 2, 3, and 4 classes participated in the completion of the mural, he stated he was
“indebted to the perseverance of a handful of students who contributed many hours to bring the
concept to fruition”. Juniors Kailyn Byers, Paige Fountain, Hailey Hardee, and Hailey Hughes
as well as seniors Michelle Jones, Angelique Murrell, and Skyler Savitz played an integral part
in the process; their “maturity, dedication, and talent…allowed [Mr. Bennett] to let them work
with little supervision while [he] stayed in [his] classroom”.
It took these talented young artists a little over a month to complete the project once they
began painting. They even had the creativity and forethought to incorporate two special
requests from Mr. Bader: a storefront named “Elizabeth’s Corner” to memorialize Mr. Bader’s
mother and a building named “Bear Necessities” just for fun. The students involved told me that
“this was an incredible learning experience” and “a highlight of their artistic experience while at
New Bern High School”. So the next time you’re in the area, stop by and sneak a peek at New
Bern High School’s latest masterpiece.

by: Brandolyn F. Holton


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