Peyton Jacobs, Joseph Antonucci and Melanie Dorn, fourth-graders at Kilby Shores Elementary School, pause for a photo Tuesday while painting Christmas decorations on the front doors and windows of the Suffolk News-Herald’s Saratoga Street office, as part of an annual tradition by public school students of getting local business ready for the holidays.
Peyton Jacobs, Joseph Antonucci and Melanie Dorn, fourth-graders at Kilby Shores Elementary School, pause for a photo Tuesday while painting Christmas decorations on the front doors and windows of the Suffolk News-Herald’s Saratoga Street office, as part of an annual tradition by public school students of getting local business ready for the holidays.

Students deck the windows

Published 10:21pm Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Downtown Suffolk is starting to look a lot more festive after students from Suffolk’s public schools began a two-day campaign to spruce up businesses in the area for Christmas.

In an annual tradition intended to warm hearts, 42 talented art students from five elementary schools, two high schools and one middle school are painting the windows of several business, according to Lesa McNamara of the school district’s administration offices.

On Tuesday, teams of students from separate schools hit Baron’s Pub, the Suffolk News-Herald, SunTrust, BB&T and Bank of America, while others will bring their brushes and paint Thursday to All About Virginia, The Plaid Turnip, the school district administration offices, Simply Susan’s Bakery, Wells Fargo, Subway and The Virginian-Pilot.

With things like an automatic carrot machine, which Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School’s Alexis Rountree was painting on a window when the Suffolk News-Herald visited SunTrust, students are finding lots of novel ways to capture the theme for the 13th year of the exercise: Magic on Main Street.

Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School’s Trevon Barnes and Quentin Livingston channel their creative instincts Tuesday, inside a front window of the SunTrust bank on Main Street. The fifth-graders were among 42 students from Suffolk’s public schools joining in an annual tradition of decorating businesses for the holidays. The budding artists will be on the streets again Thursday.
Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School’s Trevon Barnes and Quentin Livingston channel their creative instincts Tuesday, inside a front window of the SunTrust bank on Main Street. The fifth-graders were among 42 students from Suffolk’s public schools joining in an annual tradition of decorating businesses for the holidays. The budding artists will be on the streets again Thursday.

“This is a table, and there’s going to be a rabbit and a machine with magic carrots coming through,” Rountree said, referring to her decoration still in the early stages of rendering.

“One rabbit is going to sell carrots to another rabbit,” the student added, not volunteering whether this mercantile theme was intentional for the bank.

Rountree didn’t appear fazed by folks walking past and evaluating her every brushstroke. “It feels good to have the opportunity to come out here and paint,” she said. “Not everybody can do it.”

Brielle Little, a classmate of Rountree’s, sketched out a snowman, compete with festive decorations on its scarf. She said she appreciated being able to help prepare Suffolk for Christmas. “It feels good,” she added.

The students’ art teacher, Lydia Dommel, further explained that Little’s snowman was a magical one that comes alive.

“They get to see their work displayed, and basically I think it helps the community, to bring the holidays to downtown,” Dommel said of the exercise.

It allows schools to share the talents of their students with the community, McNamara said.

The businesses involved come back year after year, she said, adding that changes to the lineup were due to new owners. “I don’t think we have had a single business drop out, and I have been doing this for seven years.”

Kilby Shores Elementary School students came to the News-Herald, painting a snowman, a gingerbread man, Christmas trees, a bunny and a kitten, mistletoe and more to vastly improve the entranceway.

“The citizens of Suffolk get a big kick out of seeing the artwork,” McNamara said.

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