Marc Archambault and team arrived 10/24 to install “The Dragon Family” at Camp Allen Elementary in Norfolk, VA. This is the 3rd of 5 natural stone mosaics Marc is completing for 5 new schools in Norfolk. All five have the theme of students creating their future. The mosaics speak to the idea of students making things; not just the life that they see but creating the life they want for themselves. The Camp Allen mosaic shows students reading, making music, and drawing under the protective eye of a dragon, the school’s mascot.
Camp Allen is a small Marine Corps base associated with the Naval Station Norfolk. The local elementary school has a high level of student turnover, as kids’ family members are reassigned to other bases around the world. When Marc met with the students last year, in preparation to design this mosaic, two themes emerged: strength and family.
All the schools have mascots, but this is the first time that it became part of the design. Camp Allen Elementary is the only place where the kids connected with the mascot. They talked about the strength and fierceness of the dragon and how that reflected them as a group.
Camp Allen Elementary has houses, much like Hogwarts from Harry Potter. This is a strategy to help new students (which arrive almost daily) get acclimated to their new school. A new student spins a game show style wheel on their first day and is assigned to a house. This becomes their school family. They immediately have a peer group looking out for them: kids to sit with at lunch, students to help them navigate a new building and schedule, etc. All of the students Marc spoke to valued their house-family greatly and said it helped them adjust to Camp Allen when they arrived.
Camp Allen has a diverse student body, which Marc thought was important to reflect in the mosaic. Throughout the series, Marc has tried to show the students as an integral part of the artwork, being an active and creative part of their learning journey through public education.