Beye School second graders view the completed mural that went up Memorial Day weekend (Photo credit: Kim Becker).

Beye Elementary students, teachers and staff were busy bees creating the Beye Hive mural, contributing more than 300 painted hexagons. The individual works of art were assembled to form a honeycomb installation on the school’s Cuyler Avenue side of the building. The project, which launched in February, went up during Memorial Day weekend.

According to the Beye Hive Art Concept, it “symbolizes the beauty of our collective perseverance and commitment to working together over this past year. Additionally, it will be a physical reminder that while all students may not have been present in the school building this year, they are all a part of the school and that each of us has something unique to contribute.”

The hexagon and assembled honeycomb shape are symbolic, too, representing harmony and balance. The art concept also references the insects known for creating their own art in this shape. “Bees live in colonies, where each plays a vital role, with a single goal of ensuring their colony or community’s survival. Bees are also essential to the growth of so many living things and for ensuring balance in our ecosystem. This year, we persevered through many changes to ensure our community’s survival and reimagining what it takes to build a community where all members can thrive. As a school community and as individuals, we’ve acknowledged our interdependence in new ways and risen (and are still rising) to the challenge of finding a new balance.”

Indeed, a community of individuals buzzed around to pull off the sweet project. Tanya Fisher, Beye School PTO co-chair of Inclusion and Diversity; Jocelyne Adkins, program director of By Discovery; By Discovery’s Stacey Grieff and Kim Becker, also a Beye parent; Andrew MacGregor, principal at Accend Construction and a Beye parent; and his father Steve McGregor, architect; were all key contributors. There were additional volunteers — parents and grandparents, community members, as well as District 97 and Beye staff who aided in hexagon creation in each classroom and assisted during the installation weekend.  

Pictured left to right, Andrew MacGregor, principal at Accend Construction, Steve MacGregor, architect, and Martin Ho, Beye School PTO Co-President, prepare the hive structure for assembly ( Courtesy of By Discovery).

 According to Fisher, “an anonymous donation to each of D97’s PTOs funded this project.”

Adkins hosted Zoom sessions to train classroom facilitators. When it came time to paint, more than 20 volunteer facilitators Zoomed with individual classrooms. Students were supplied with paint strips in the shape of a hexagon, brushes and a choice in their creations.

“As a classroom group, we reflected on the past year and how we all had to work together, albeit separately, to keep ourselves and our community safe,” Fisher said. “The first suggestion we presented to students was to create their hexagons based on what brought them joy during this time. You will see a wide range of hexagons illustrating everything from dance, art, yoga, and music to video games, sports, Legos and many pets. Another option was for students to design a hexagon any way they liked, representing that each of us has something unique and beautiful to contribute to our community. You will see colorful geometric designs and other abstract representations.”

Adkins said Fisher was “a force of nature and spent many, many hours leading and managing this project start to finish.” Fisher sought out approval from the PTO board, Beye School principal and Beye buildings and grounds director. She worked with construction and architecture professionals regarding mounting the mural, scheduled volunteers, ordered and distributed supplies and collected hexagons after they were painted.

Kim Becker of By Discovery works on assembling the Beye Hive mural (Courtesy of By Discovery).

Besides facilitating training for classroom volunteers, the By Discovery team created the design concept for the painted hexagons and assisted in the installation.

Fisher pointed out that “this was very much a collaborative effort” and that the By Discovery team and Adkins in particular “put her whole heart, and lots of expertise, into this project and dedicated countless hours to ensuring it took flight.” 

Buzz on by 230 N. Cuyler Ave., Oak Park, to view the Beye Hive, a honey of an artwork.

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