Waterford High School Students are Creating Portraits of Kids in Haiti Through ‘Memory Project’

Isabella Piccione, a student at Waterford High School, works on a portrait for the Memory Project.

WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — With every stroke of a paintbrush or mark of a pencil, students at Waterford High School are creating lasting memories.

“The Memory Project was created in order to give children in other parts of the world, that might not have the same things that we do here, a little piece of personal artwork for themselves,” said Gretchen Lally, an art teacher at the school.

This is the second year Waterford High School has been involved in the Memory Project, a non-profit that invites art teachers and students to donate portraits of children from around the world.

“Many of these children that we paint portraits for have lost all of their personal possessions, either through natural disasters, earthquakes, floods, they’ve lost their homes, they’ve lost everything” said Shelly Concascia, an art teacher at Waterford High School.

This year, the school received photos from Haiti.

“Being in a third world country, they’re kind of lacking in resources, even just a picture of themselves, so now they’ll have a possession like that to carry around with them,” said Isabella Piccione, a student participating in the project.

“Our students like to write a little message,” Concascia said. “We take a photograph of the artist and send that back to Haiti along with the portrait.

For the young artists, all members of Waterford High’s National Art Honor Society, the goal is to put a smile on the children’s faces.

“I hope she’s extremely excited,” student Julia Florek said of the young girl she is drawing.

“I hope when they open it up, they feel someone cares about them and that there are people out there looking out for them,” said student Mikayla Brucoli.

In return, the organization sends a video back to Waterford High School of the kids receiving the artwork. The video from last year’s project features kids who are orphans in Congo, Africa.

“We had a lot of students that were emotionally overwhelmed by it, crying, and just could not believe how something so simple was making such a large difference in somebody else’s life,” Lally recalled.

Since 2004, the Memory Project has created more than 100,000 portraits for kids in 43 countries.

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