Local artist Mark Borella visited MICDS Lower School this week. The Kirkwood artist, known as the Seeds of Happiness Guy, started the day with a presentation to the entire Beasley community. Students enjoyed meeting Mr. Borella and hearing his message of kindness and how sharing a smile can brighten a day, no matter how little you are. “You can share any token of happiness. It doesn’t have to be a Seed of Happiness, it could be a post-it with a smiley face on it. You might just change someone’s life. Kids can change the world,” he said. Throughout his talk, Borella drew smiley faces on post-it notes and handed them out to delighted students.
He explained how Seeds of Happiness began. A friend’s child was sick, and Borella struggled to find a way to help. He felt that no sculpture or piece of art would make a difference for this family. He fashioned a small, smiling face out of a lump of clay, glazed it a cheerful color and gave it to the family. He thought they could hold the smile until they got their own smile back. The family was touched and encouraged Borella to make more smiles for more people who might need them.
Borella also shared his own experience of being a student when he was younger, when he struggled with traditional academics. Thankfully, a caring high school art teacher recognized his potential and cultivated his artistic talent. The teacher helped him with homework, took him to college courses his junior and senior years, assisted in creating a portfolio of his artwork and helped him send it out. The teacher made him realize that he wasn’t “dumb and lazy,” but that his brain works differently. Eventually, art schools came calling, and the student who once struggled through grade school ended up earning several college degrees.
After the assembly, Borella worked with 3rd and 4th grade students during their art classes to create a colorful coral reef. He showed samples of his own work and talked about how plastic pollution can harm marine ecosystems. He demonstrated to the children how to make a variety of underwater creatures, and they set to work. There’s now a small ocean’s worth of clay shapes in the Lower School art studio waiting to be fired and assembled into the Beasley reef, a permanent art installation.
Before his visit, Borella gave some of his seeds of happiness to share in our community. Beasles, with the help of their teachers, visited the Upper and Middle Schools to deliver happiness to students, teachers and support staff. Check out our video below to watch them share unexpected smiles and joy throughout MICDS. It looks like happiness is contagious!