The halls are alive with wonder at Parkside School

It’s a jungle outside this Parkside classroom, thanks to local artist Aaron Sullivan. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

BAILEYTON, Ala. – The Panthers of Parkside School returned for the 2019-2020 school year to find more whimsy and wonder throughout their halls and classrooms. The unique artwork and creativity that fills the school brought international recognition last year ( and Principal Richard Orr hopes to keep building on those successes.

Local artist Aaron Sullivan continues to lend his talents to help each teacher create a fun classroom entrance that reflects his or her students’ interests as well as his or her own. From Dr. Seuss to the Grand Canyon, the students are surrounded by color and wonder that provide an exciting learning environment that sparks the imagination.

One of the newest murals is Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. It only makes sense that it’s next door to rival Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Orr smiled, “He got a little jealous that her door had Aubie, so he went back and added Big Al to Alabama’s stadium.”

Orr also told of another unexpected trend, “It’s funny; they started making it personal. That’s the teacher’s dog, so he put his dog there.”

As the teachers’ doorways were being painted, their own dogs and even a cat were incorporated into the scenes.

Sixth-grade teacher Laura Dunkin worked hard over the summer on her classroom. She has created a chic and inviting space that has all the students talking.

Orr explained, “It looks so pretty in there. She’s really crafty and her husband is very handy and they teamed together and took some lockers, I think, from Holly Pond from the 60s that her parents had in her basement and made a fun bar out of them for the kids to sit at to read or work on school work. I’ve heard the kids in the hallway say, ‘Have you seen Mrs. Dunkin’s room? It’s so awesome!’”

With almost all the classrooms finished, the next projects will be the lunchroom and perhaps the office. Orr hasn’t come up with an idea for the office but the lunchroom will soon be the “Parkside Grille.”

This is Orr’s ninth year as principal at Parkside and he said that is special because this year’s is the first eighth-grade class that has been with him from start to finish.

Next Friday, the first graders will participate in the “house” selection process, and they will be introduced to the second through eighth graders with whom they will participate in fun school challenges. Last year’s house winner was the Kondwi House.

“Last year was a pretty amazing year,” said Orr. “As I was putting up pictures for everything that happened last year, I thought, ‘Man, it was crazy.’ Last year was great, but we don’t stop there.”

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Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune
Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune
Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune
Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune