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Valley Violence One Year Later: Bridging the Past and Present with Art

No matter how hard anyone tries to forget the past, it will always have an impact on the future. For one group of Herkimer students, the past and present came together at the site where the tragedy occurred and for them the bridge between the past and present is art.
No matter how hard anyone tries to forget the past, it will always have an impact on the future. For one group of Herkimer students, the past and present came together at the site where the tragedy occurred and for them the bridge between the past and present is art.
A dark vacant space with boarded up windows, that's how the old Glory Days building in Herkimer looked for months after the shootings. But a few months ago a group of Herkimer students decided to change that.
Herkimer Elementary and High School students covered the decrepit building with brightly painted murals, a pop of positivity for the children and the entire community in healing.
"It definitely had a positive effect on our students all of them were very excited about the project, excited to see their artwork up and just to take a little part of it,” said Heather McCutcheon, a teacher in the Herkimer district.
"My favorite part was drawing the people, the rainbow, I would get to work with my friends we got to make all these people and work on the rainbow,” said one of the student artists.
The significance of the former bar and restaurant was not lost on the students.
"I just described to them where the building was and i was even amazed how many of the younger students knew exactly what had happened here and why the boards were up," said Heather Wheeler Stapf, Herkimer Elementary art teacher.
"It looked a little crummy because of the shooting in the spring and now it just transformed because of all the art pieces we did,” said a Herkimer student.
Regardless of age, the shootings affected every member of the Herkimer Community. Students say they hope the new scenery restores some of the area's happier memories.
"Just like a bunch of boards and everything but since we painted it it looks like it's more a part of the community, it kind of brings some joy back to Herkimer,” said another Herkimer student.

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