An array of ‘art galleries’ are appearing around town as Perham elementary students’ posters are showing their love for Perham, as well as the school’s support of businesses.

Students in kindergarten through fourth grade are the featured artists with signs depicting family members, school, friends, trains and the lakes. The students learned about design, working for a customer and giving back to the community, as Heart of the Lakes art teacher Ellen Kurtz said.

“What I believe students enjoyed the most was that they were going to be able to showcase their artwork in town. They were excited for Perham to see what they were making,” Kurtz said in an email to the Focus. “It was amazing to see students express their love for Perham through their artwork!”


"Students are showing and learning about the power of community, and unity in general."

— Ellen Kurtz


The students were abuzz about the project, creating approximately 500 posters for area businesses as a sign of thankfulness for this difficult last year and the many years of their support of the schools. Elementary Principal Liz Johnson said the traditional spring bingo/raffle at the school is “very successful” largely due to businesses and community members. The school will not be having the bingo/raffle this year.

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“Instead of asking for donations and realizing that this has been a difficult year for everyone, we saw this as an opportunity to give back to the business and community members that have helped us in the past,” Johnson said in an email. “The Signs of Hope project was our way of thanking them and also brought the artwork and thanks of our students to the community for all to see.”

The HIVE parent group, office staff members and students paired up to share the heartfelt messages.

Johnson said two of her favorite signs are “When I think of Perham I think of trains” and “I (heart) to speak Spanish in Perham and is my favorite language” with a big sunshine, house and the artist next to it.

While students have been creating works of art all year long, and adorning the hallways of the elementary school, visitors aren’t able to stop by to view the artwork. The posters throughout town give the community an opportunity to enjoy the artwork made at school, as Kurtz said.

“I will say forever that artwork can speak a thousand words,” Kurtz said. “Students are showing and learning about the power of community, and unity in general. Within their town, but also as a school.”