Last Friday, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), along with students and staff from Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet School, unveiled the fruits of their months-long labor.
They had transformed a nearby bus-stop shelter into a work of art.
With the sun peeking through clouds, the group admired for the first time a project that was more than two months in the making. On the front of the shelter is a collection of individual drawings, mostly of landscapes, animals and people, with a colorful oak tree on the back.
“Kids are creative,” said Tian Ding, who teaches fine arts at Garden Oaks Montessori. “You just give them the idea, and they’ll draw whatever they can think of.”
The bus shelter, located at the northwest corner of North Shepherd Drive and Garden Oaks Boulevard, was chosen because of its location along METRO’s 27 Shepherd and 36 Kempwood routes and because it is frequently used by students and their families. METRO spokesperson Monica Russo said the organization approached Ding about the project in April.
“It’s a fun collaborative project. There’s just a sense of ownership that comes along with it,” Russo said. “I love seeing this kind of stuff, and I think the kids and community do, too.”
Ding and the students were happy to accept the challenge.
“I tried to have all the upper-elementary students do the front of the bus stop, with the thought that it would have a theme,” she said. “We wanted it to be about teaching peace as well as environmental science, since (Garden Oaks Montessori is) an environmental science magnet school. That way, we can get the whole community involved and give them an idea of what they can do to protect our environment.”
Once a drab backdrop, the front of the bus shelter is now adorned with an environmental science-themed collage created by the students. Cross over to the back, and there lies a depiction of a perfectly crafted oak tree, complete with swirls of color across the rainbow’s spectrum, designed by seventh grader Athena Atkinson.
“I wanted to capture the true spirit of Garden Oaks, its sense of community and how we’re all linked together in getting this done,” Atkinson said. “It’s Garden Oaks. There had to be a tree and there had to be an eagle, since that’s our mascot. Garden Oaks Montessori is a big part of our community. I wanted to represent all the people and all the different types of people we have.”