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Home Recycling Wyckoff NJ students create 8-foot mural with 3,000 recycled books

Wyckoff NJ students create 8-foot mural with 3,000 recycled books

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Learn how to make a corner bookmark.
Laura Adams Stiansen

WYCKOFF — One way to make a wall popular: cover it with 3,000 recycled books and decorate it with a message to encourage student reading.

Eighth grade students at Eisenhower Middle School created a permanent mural that stands 8 feet tall and 23 feet wide. It took four months to build it under the direction of art teacher Monique Sarfity.

“We do a lot with recycled materials in class,” Sarfity said. ‘This is also a large project for the outgoing eighth graders so they can put their stamp on the school.” 

Students removed the paper jackets, glued the books together in small groups, then attached them with brackets to a wall-mounted frame.

“The mural design was a collaboration,” Sarfity said. “The students contributed ideas, then as a group we picked the elements and came up with a concept.”

Mural measure 8 feet tall by 23 feet wide. Books are permanently affixed to a wall brace with brackets. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Monique Sarafity)

The mural and its message were traced onto the books using a projector, then filled in by students. Sarfity estimated 75 students were involved over the life of the project.

“Reading gives us someone place to go when we have to stay where we are…” the mural tells students. Various storybook characters emerge from the open book.

The 3,000 books used for the project were donated by several libraries including Wyckoff’s.  

“The majority are books donated to the library that have gone through a couple book sales and have not sold,” said library Director Laura Leonard. “Some are books that due to age or lack of use have been removed from the collection.” 

This is the second recycling, sustainable project for the school, Sarfity said. Last year the eighth graders created a sculpture from recycled cans. For her efforts, Sarfity received the school’s Innovative Practice award.

“Creating a caring school community is paramount to our work with adolescents,” said Principal Chris Iasiello. “Due to her vision for bringing a school together around public art work, our hallways are now not only more beautiful, but also represent the individual artistic expressions of our student body.”

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