TIOGA JUNCTION — Elementary students here can now play and learn using a 36-foot by 20-foot map of all 50 states.
Freestyle Striping donated all supplies and labor for the map at the R.B. Walter Elementary School, along with volunteer labor from students and family members.
Owner Robert Stephens, wife Tabatha and children Riley, 11, sixth grade; Elliott, 7, second grade, and Emerich, 3, helped along with employee Brian Padgett, daughter Sutton, 17 months, and students Kameron Monroe, 7, second grade; Keith Monroe, 10, fourth grade; Desirae Stickler, 9, fourth grade; Gaige McCormick, 7, second grade; and Avery Hutcheson, 7, second grade.
The two-day project started on the day when the school hosted an open house before the start of school. The work was scheduled that day “in the hopes of catching a couple of kids,” said Robert Stephens.
Desirae said she found her mother outside watching the work, and decided to join in because she likes to paint.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Elliott.
“We all went to school here. I’m also head coach for the elementary wrestlers,” said Robert Stephens. “We thought it would be a nice thing to give to the school.”
It was also an opportune time as the playground had just been resurfaced and sealed, which would improve the paint adherence and longevity.
Christina Fry, school principal, said the new map makes learning tangible and will get kids moving on the playgrounds.
“Some kids learn better by moving, so this gives them that option,” said Fry. “Also, this speaks to the great community that gives back to the school. People care about education and learning and we’re just very grateful.”
Freestyle Striping created a similar map at Watkins Glen, and thought the colors — white, light and dark blue, light and dark red, with state borders in yellow — were patriotic.
The project began by using a stencil and crayon to mark out the state borders, said Robert Stephens. The paint colors were also written on each state. All of the states, except Alaska, are to scale.
After that, paint was applied before the yellow border was painted on freehand. As a special touch, the work crew added reflective beads to the paint for Texas, so it will shine at night like the Lone Star it is, said Robert Stephens.
Typically, Freestyle charges $3,000 to do a map like this. Stephens said the map should last five to 10 years. When it’s time to replace it, he’ll be around to make sure the job is done right.