Rob Surette unveils the masterpiece created in the Artist in Residence program

Last month, students at Shawsheen Tech partnered up with children from the Wilmington Middle School and the West CARES program to participate in Rob Surette’s Artist in Residence program. Together, they designed a masterpiece and held the great reveal this Tuesday. The theme of the project was be kind. (

Last week, students from the Shawsheen Valley Tech­nical High School, Wilming­ton Middle School, and the Wilmington West CARES Program showed their portrait of Ellen Degeneres made entirely out of crayons at the SVTHS Third Annual Spring Festival. Built by students ranging from the fourth through twelfth grades, the piece was built over the course of three days. Over a hundred students combined from the three schools work­ed on the project.

The students created the piece as a part of an Artist in Residence workshop with Rob Surette. During the program, students worked on the project in two sections, working within roughly 1.5 hour sessions. Students from the Shawsheen Tech attended all sessions, and students from Wilmington Middle School and West CARES each comprised one section each. Overall, students work­ed on the project for roughly five hours, spanning over the course of three days. Artist Rob Surette worked to finish the project outside of the students’ work sessions.

Aside from creating im­pressive artwork, the intention of the project was to es­tablish a connection and relationship between the Shaw­sheen Tech and the Wilming­ton community. Ad­ditionally, the program served to em­phasize the relationship be­tween kindness and success, using Ellen DeGeneres as a subject because she is known for emphasizing the importance of kindness in one’s everyday life. Students from both communities had been connected in the past due to a partnership between Shaw­sheen Valley Technical High School Guidance Counselor, Angela Caira and the Wil­mington West CARES Site Coordinator, Kerin Osgood to educated students on bullying prevention and mental health.

This partnership enabled the Artist in Residence program to occur in the first place. After Surrette pitched Caira the idea for this particular program, Caira was unable to schedule it at the Tech. However, she pitched it to Osgood, for the program’s message aligned with the ideals of their collaboration, and the program was able to commence.

A video of the artwork is available for viewing on Rob Surrette’s Facebook page. It can be found at:

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