ArtsSchool News

Alexandria Gets Another New Mural!

Douglas MacArthur Students Create Tapestry Honoring Namesake General

ACPS Officials and students gather for Alexandria’s newest mural unveiling. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

ALEXANDRIA, VA–The newest Alexandria mural was unveiled on Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11, at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School.

A tapestry quilt, created by artist Cheryl Foster and Douglas MacArthur students past and present, displayed the likeness of MacArthur, as well as a collection of items representative of the school.

The tapestry was created by Artist Cheryl Foster and Douglas MacArthur students past and present. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

“We are gathered today on Veterans Day at Douglas MacArthur to unveil this incredible tapestry,” stated Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. in his opening remarks.

Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

A 5 Star General of the United States Army, Douglas MacArthur is not only the namesake of the elementary school, but also a United States Veteran, and a prominent one at that. He received the Medal of Honor as well as a dozen other awards throughout his military career. The tapestry incorporates those notions of MacArthur’s legacy, with 5 golden stars scattered across the middle next to his image.

Artist Cheryl Foster continues to detail, “Students at multiple grade levels helped create this magnificent artwork. It has now become part of MacArthur’s legacy. With the tapestry, we honor the memory of General MacArthur who made a difference in the lives of generations of Americans, as did this school named after him as it strives to turn out future leaders.”

Second grader Pfister helps inaugurate the tapestry. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

One of those future leaders even spoke at the unveiling. Second-grader Drew Pfister, a descendant of a colleague of MacArthur, stated, “On this special day, I would like to thank all the veterans, especially my grandfathers.” Pfister was only in Kindergarten when the project was started in 2019, but his two older siblings did get to collaborate.

Pfister unveils the tapestry. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

The entire quilt has been years in the making, with hundreds of volunteers, community members, school staff, and students lending their hands. This idea was spawned as part of an arts integration initiative in the fall of 2019, when the PTA reached out to the Kennedy Center for resources.

The Center directed the PTA to several artists, who were all interviewed for the position of creating a collaborative arts project at the school. PTA Representative, Reagan Moore, says, “Cheryl foster is really the person who stood out to us, who had a vision of bringing the entire school together.”

Foster points out the image of the old school building woven into the fabric. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

The 8×15 foot stretch of fabric showcases student self-portraits, an image of the school building, birds for one teacher who enjoyed birding, bits of trophies of all kinds, vests from Mexico, Ethiopian fabrics. “We need bits and pieces from every family in the school,” Cheryl noted when the project began.

Foster describes the trophy pieces on display. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

Now, nearing three years since the inception of the tapestry idea, bringing the entire school, as well as the community, together, has taken on a new meaning. In the near future, Douglas MacArthur Elementary will relocate to a new building, and when it does, the tapestry will move with the students and staff, but until then, the artwork remains proudly on display in the spacious cafeteria in the heart of the school.

This artwork, unveiled on Veterans Day, does not only honor one of this country’s leaders, but it stands to inspire leaders of the future, and to represent the art of working together, as a school, as a community, as a country.

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