When fifth graders walked into Rea Hall at the start of the academic year, they were greeted by a colorful mural depicting friendly animals bringing school supplies to students. The mural was created by sophomores Alex and Avery Hedrick, who spent about two weeks over the summer bringing their design to life.
“We wanted to come up with a mural that made the fifth graders feel welcomed, since moving up to Middle School is a big step and a new experience,” explains Avery.
The sisters love artistic pursuits and since their Middle School days have painted several murals around Charlotte in conjunction with the Arts Empowerment Project, an organization in which Middle School art teacher Dwayne Wilson is involved. In addition to painting murals, they have taken part in numerous other activities, such as running craft workshops with youth from low socioeconomic communities and assembling art supply boxes for donation to CMS schools. “Their gravitation toward service opportunities is not for extra credit or mandatory community service hours,” says Mr. Wilson. “They simply understand the need for and importance of it in our community.”
Both Alex and Avery credit Mr. Wilson with how far they have come as artists. Alex shares that “Mr. Wilson has always pushed us to be better. He never says the work is good enough. In a constructive way, he lets his students know how they can improve.”
Alex also shares that her initial love of art stems back to Lower School classes with Kandise Hayes. “Mrs. Hayes always made art fun and interesting. Going to art class was definitely my favorite part of the day.”
And so, of course, they conferred with Mr. Wilson on paint colors for the Rea Hall mural. And they laugh that, of course, he gently critiqued their choices. But for this project, they were given free reign by Warren Sepkowitz, Head of Middle School.
He says, “This summer, I asked Alex and Avery if they would consider creating a mural in Rea Hall. I told them how much I loved their animals when they were in Middle School and asked if they would include some animals in the mural.”
In addition to enjoying the challenge and fun of creating a mural together, Alex and Avery loved seeing many of their former teachers who were on campus getting their classrooms ready. “Everyone was so supportive and complimented us,” says Avery. “It was a lot of fun to see our teachers again.”
Pursuing Art in Upper School
Now in Upper School, the sisters both remain heavily involved with their study of art. They plan to take fine arts courses all four years and they continue to volunteer with The Arts Empowerment Project on Charlotte-area murals. Avery took part in the school’s Italy Artists in Residence program this past summer and Avery knows that she wants to make art a career. In their free time, they both also bring their artistic vision to footwear–Alex likes to embroider shoes and Avery paints sneakers.
Mr. Wilson concludes, “Alex and Avery Hedrick are exemplary representations of what it means to be a Country Day Buccaneer. Both girls superbly understand the concept ‘you get out of it, what you put in’ and it’s been reflected through their daily actions since I met them seven years ago. Back then, the girls were curious, excited, artistic sponges who soaked up everything in class. For three years, outside of class, they also participated in my weekend art classes where they took more risks, explored higher-level critical thinking, and experimented with different styles/techniques of art. The biggest difference from who they were back then to who they are can be summed up in one word: confidence. They believe in themselves. They trust their independent skill sets and problem-solving abilities. They embrace leadership roles.
"It’s their relentless dedication to learning, particularly in the creative arts, and their involvement with volunteer services that makes them such essential members of our Country Day community.”