After a year of preparation and over a full week of painting, 16 Tamaqua Area Middle School art club students have completed work to their Tamaqua Pride Mural.

Students state that the mural, located on the Lafayette Street hill retaining wall, depicts 100 years of Tamaqua's history including arts, music, people, places, events, commerce, sports, education, volunteerism and most importantly - pride.

"These students have worked hard over the past year preparing for this project," said Tamaqua Middle School art teacher Kim Woodward, who also serves as the art club adviser. "The mural was actually the third time the students have done it on paper."

During the week of painting, passing motorists would beep their horns in support or praise the students on their work.

"I really enjoyed the time we spent learning and researching the history of Tamaqua," said 8th grader Ryan Alicandri, 13.

"This was a great learning experience for all of us," said 8th grader Zoey Snyder, 13. "We are all very proud of our work."

During the project, students wore shirts with the words "creative instinct."

"We all know where to draw, but both talent and instinct made this project even easier," said Woodward.

"The students didn't forget the veterans," said Tamaqua resident John "Cy" McCormick, a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, as he pointed out the flag and red, white and blue bunting that stretches atop the entire mural. "They simply did an outstanding job."

Woodward stated her appreciation to a number of sponsors who provided support for the project, some of which were Tamaqua Area School District, Tamaqua Raider Foundation, Tamaqua Historical Society, Pratt and Lambert Paint, Tamaqua M and S Hardware, Hope's Towing, Dan Reigel Plumbing and Heating, Tamaqua's Elk Lodge, A and C Catering, Rita's Italian Ice in Hometown, Piercini's, Domino's in Tamaqua, Our Family Mini-Mart, Boyers Markets, La Dolce Casa and the Tamaqua Borough.

"It is great to see our students and school giving back to our community," said Erica Croman, who lives adjacent to the mural and stated how kind the students were during the weeklong project. "Their art work covers a lot of what matters in Tamaqua."

"I am very impressed with the level of skill of these students," said substitute teacher Sarah Miller. "Their knowledge of Tamaqua's history and detail in their work is amazing.

"This is a great example of how art can bring students together to achieve a higher level of learning," said Woodward. "Students spent weeks researching Tamaqua's history via the Tamaqua Historical Society, as well as an array of knowledgeable individuals." She added that all forms of academics where incorporated in the making of project, to include both math and science.

"This project shows that Tamaqua's youth care about the community and the importance of learning its history," said Woodward.