Creating Art, Making Friends at Five Towns Community Center | Herald Community Newspapers

As the music streamed from an iPad, several students from Lawrence Middle School and some of the private schools in the area worked on coloring a 20 x 8′ mural on a wall in one of the two rooms that make up the teen center at Five Towns Community. Center in Lawrence.

Encouraged by LMS and School Number Four art teacher David Lichtenstein and assisted by Number Four Kindergarten teacher Alisia Glenn and High School art teacher Beth Goldtstein, the students created images and wrote optimistic messages as a way of giving back to the community.

“Aliesa came up to me and said she wanted to do a mural for the teen center, so we kind of collaborated together,” Lichtenstein said. “We sat down and had an idea and I sketched it out and it kind of fell into place that way.”

Applying their 19 years of experience to Glenn’s 28-year-old, the pair partnered with the idea that came together during the coronavirus pandemic and due to her husband, James, being a member of the Community Center’s board. He also works as a caretaker for the Lawrence School District.

“When everything was closed, we were going in, we were repainting the walls of the different offices and cleaning the rooms just to keep ourselves busy and we had the opportunity to give back to the community,” Aliesa said. “So when we reopened this was one of the rooms we painted and cleaned and we mentioned a mural and I said it wouldn’t be better if the kids did that.”

Lawrence Middle School eighth grader Gabrielle Serrano was one of several students who were coloring the mural, she said it is “a lot of fun”. “I was in my art class and Mr. Lichtenstein, my teacher, he likes the art I make. He told me to come and here I am.”

Lichenstein said his goal was to involve the community in the project and create what he called a “bridge” for children and the community to help understand the Community Center’s uniqueness.

“I thought it would be nice to make kids understand what the Community Center is and why it’s so special,” he said. It really is a safe haven for a lot of these kids.”

The teen center includes televisions that double as game monitors with sofas, there are two pool tables, foosball, ping pong, tables, chairs, microwave and mini-fridge.

“Let’s get the kids involved, it’s their room,” said Aliesa who was the impetus behind the mural. “Instead of being on the street and getting into trouble, you can be here and hang out with your friends.”

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