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New Utrecht HS students celebrate summer with art

New Utrecht High School students celebrated the first day of summer vacation by putting their talents on display.

Over a dozen students, according to guidance counselor and project leader Yaron Dotan, did their part in bringing four magnificent murals to life within the school’s now empty halls. On Friday, June 27, the team led local pols on a guided tour – one hand-painted masterpiece at a time.

“There was something for everyone [to do],” explained Dotan, far from a first-time muralist himself. The guidance counselor once brought student artwork to life in William E. Grady High School and, upon his arrival at New Utrecht, went right to work. “The kids really enjoyed themselves. They learn to appreciate art and their own imaginations.”

According to Dotan, 20 or so students participated in the four mural projects.

“They’re all different themes,” explained Daniella Garcia, a graduating senior who, along with fellow classmates, left her mark on her high school before heading to the Borough of Manhattan Community College in the fall. “I wanted to get involved because I love drawing and painting.”

A love, Dotan said, not all students had at first.

“Some just wanted to have fun,” he said, adding that – even in passing – non-participating students were challenged to lend the artists an idea or two. “Whatever they wanted to see, that’s what the students created. Ideas came from all the students.”

Senior Alexis Gonzalez was especially proud of her “Mondrian fish,” inspired by 20th century abstract painter Piet Mondrian who, according to Gonzalez, “was famous for doing the most simple of artwork.”

Gonzalez’ fish swam in a sea of hand-painted characters on what Dotan called “the science floor,” where the largest mural stood tall – and blue.

“It’s a marine biology theme,” the students explained of the two-wall piece that took over two months to make, complete with characters like the Little Mermaid, SpongeBob Squarepants, Poseidon and even Jaws.

“This is absolutely incredible,” marveled Ridgeite Andrew Gounardes who attended the event on behalf of Borough President Eric Adams, joined by John Quaglione representing State Senator Marty Golden and Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

Attention to detail was key, said Dotan, as many spectators found themselves lost in the specifics of sea life, land life and – Gentile’s favorite – life stuck in traffic, complete with a sign that read, “Leaving New Utrecht? Fuggedaboutit.”

“It’s an old building so it brings some brightness,” lauded Principal Maureen Goldfarb, adding that art has always been important to New Utrecht High School. “It’s amazing work.”

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