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Birchwood Intermediate School

A newly finished community mural that spans the bridge between the Huntington Station and South Huntington communities was unveiled on Huntington Awareness day.

The Town of Huntington celebrated the completion of Birchwood Intermediate School’s community mural painted on the Long Island Rail Road overpass over New York Avenue Sept. 22.

It’s a day our community celebrates not an individual’s, but our collective achievements,” Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “This beautification project delights and inspires us, it continues the beautification that we’ve done. It helps bring us forward, inspires us, and let’s us know that we are one community working together.”

Annie Michaelian, former assistant principal at Birchwood, and Barbara Wright, a fifth-grade teacher at Birchwood, led a team of students, teachers and staff to painting a mural along the LIRR overpass that highlights Huntington’s unique landmarks, features and cultural diversity.

Area residents should be able to easily identify some of the iconic landmarks painted on the overpass including the Huntington Lighthouse and the southwest entrance to Heckscher Park, and a stylized version of the park’s fountains and bridges. These items are depicted as drawn by Birchwood’s students.

The best part of this experience was as we were painting our community members are walking past us and thanking us for beauitfying the train station,” Birchwood principal Anthony Ciccarelli said. “It was touching to all of us, it put smile on our faces. We did it for the love of our community.”

In the last few weeks since TBR News Media first reported on the mural, the finishing touches including the names of the schools in Huntington and South Huntington school districts have been added along with a quote by Walt Whitman, Huntington’s famous poet and journalist.  A flag was also added to an airplane to thank Aboff’s Paints in Huntington for donating all the paint, brushes, rollers and supplies needed.

See more photos of the new Huntington Station LIRR mural while in progress, click here. 

Huntington’s commuters are being enticed to stop and appreciate the beautiful aspects of their hometown each day as they pass under the Long Island Rail Road tracks.

Dozens of parents, teachers and students in South Huntington’s Birchwood Intermediate School community have spent hours this August transforming the railroad and pedestrian overpass on Route 110/New York Avenue into a bright, colorful community mural.

“This is the hub of the community, it bridges Huntington and South Huntington,” said Annie Michaelian, former assistant principal at Birchwood. “We felt it would be a nice place to set a gift of beautification.”

It’s an opportunity you get once in a lifetime to do it together as a community.”

— Annie Michaelian

Barbara Wright, a fifth-grade teacher at Birchwood, said she proposed the idea to the School-Based Management Committee in March as a way of giving back to the community. Wright had previously done a similar — but much smaller, she stressed — mural with her Girl Scout Brownie troop in Blue Point. Michaelian said after mulling the idea over, she was on board.

“It’s an opportunity you get once in a lifetime to do it together as a community,” she said.

School officials reached out to the Town of Huntington, gaining the support of Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) for the project as it gained momentum. Next, the SBM committee held a meeting with LIRR representatives in late June, as the organization owns the railroad and pedestrian overpasses, according to Michaelian, to get full approval for the mural before going full steam ahead.

Wright had Birchwood students, like 11-year-old Danny Ryan, draw and sketch out what the mural should represent.

We tried to think of the beautiful side of Huntington and come up with ideas, then put them together into the mural.”

— Danny Ryan

“We tried to think of the beautiful side of Huntington and come up with ideas, then put them together into the mural,” Danny said.

Area residents should be able to easily identify some of the iconic landmarks painted on the overpass including the Huntington Lighthouse and the southwest entrance to Heckscher Park, and a stylized version of the park’s fountains and bridges.

“Everything that you see, all of the elements were drawn by the kids,” Wright said. “I can tell you the kid who drew that flower, that boat, that lighthouse.”

Once the individual drawings were photoshopped together into the mural, it became a matter of finding volunteers to execute the vision, and so a signup form was put on the school’s website. Aboff’s Paints in Huntington donated all the paint, brushes, rollers and supplies needed, according to the assistant principal.

“There was an outpouring of people who wanted to help,” Michaelian said. “Community members have been driving by, beeping and saying they love it. It’s become this beautiful thing.”

That’s what we try to teach the kids all the time: You come to school to learn, but you are also part of a bigger thing, part of your community, of your state and your country.”

— Anthony Ciccarelli

Wright and her husband, Paul, began placing outlines of the children’s drawings up on the overpass tunnels the first weekend of August, with rotating shifts of volunteers picking up the paintbrushes each Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Dozens of children and their parents have come down to paint and bring life to their drawings.

“They are taking complete ownership,” she said. “They are so committed.”

During Labor Day weekend, Birchwood Principal Anthony Ciccarelli could be found rolling out a blue sky on the western wall of the overpass to serve as a backdrop to an airplane.

You are so proud of the whole school community for coming together, first for thinking of the idea and thinking of the community and, second, thinking of how to better your community,” Ciccarelli said. “That’s what we try to teach the kids all the time: You come to school to learn, but you are also part of a bigger thing, part of your community, of your state and your country.”

The committee hopes to have the mural finished for a grand unveiling during the annual Unity in the Community parade — Huntington Awareness Day scheduled for Sept. 22. Even so, its student creators hope the mural is a gift that continues to give and grow with the community.

“Maybe, hopefully, people will continue to add new things to it in the future,” Danny said.

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