From left, Ciara Quiñónez, Phillipsburg High School; Alexandra DuBose, Easton Area High School; Sage Brotzman, Easton Area High School; Jaritsa Rosario, Easton Area High School; Ella Gagliardi, Phillipsburg High School, Hannah Beck, Phillipsburg High School.
Against the background of a mural painted by local high school students at St. Luke’s Easton Campus, Network officials on Tuesday awarded scholarships to the first recipients of the special community grants marking the 150th anniversary of St. Luke’s founding.
The students from Easton Area High School and Phillipsburg High School, who created the mental-health affirming mural over the past six months, in collaboration with the Lafayette College “Lafayette Experience” art program, will each receive a scholarship check and Certificate of Artistic Excellence from St. Luke’s University Health Network.
“We would like to recognize these six students through scholarship awards,” says Rosemarie Lister, senior Network director of Community Health. “Additionally, we will provide funding for a future Easton community-based art initiative to further support health and healing!”
The student-artists include: Sage Brotzman, Alexandra (Lexi) DuBose and Jarista Rosario, from Easton; and from Phillipsburg High School, Ella Gagliardi, Hannah Beck and Ciara Quiñónez.
“As part of these celebrations, St. Luke’s will award special grants totaling $150,000 to partner schools and nonprofits working to make a positive impact in our community,” said Rajiika Reed, MD, vice president of St. Luke’s Community Health.
St. Luke’s has been a cornerstone of the Lehigh Valley since its founding in 1872. The Lehigh Valley’s oldest hospital was established to provide industrial workers, many of them from Bethlehem Steel, with local access to health care, eliminating the long journey to New York or Philadelphia for critical treatment. A century and a half later, St. Luke’s continues to honor its commitment to local business and the community – as the Network’s iconic star shines as bright as ever.
St. Luke’s year-long celebration began this spring with employee events at St. Luke’s campuses, a special anniversary IronPigs baseball game at Coca-Cola Park and a special anniversary Health Now episode that aired on WFMZ. Additional events and activities are planned throughout the year.
Both Reed and Lister spoke to guests during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to introduce the mural today.
The three-dimension, 30-feet-long by eight-feet-high artwork installed on a wall of the hospital’s second floor, depicts pink lotus flowers symbolizing serenity, teal “honeycombs,” representing interconnectedness and white bubbles for life and creativity, all designed and painted, or applied as vinyl cutouts, on the deep blue wall covering. These figures were chosen by the students over many months of planning with guidance from Jim Toia, executive director of the “Lafayette Experience” and art teachers from the school districts, Jason Horvath, Phillipsburg, and Loren Marquardt, Easton.
Four tempered glass panels suspended, from the ceiling and anchored to the floor in front of the mural, offer the uplifting quote chosen by the students to title their creation. “Like the lotus, we can rise from the mud, bloom out of darkness and radiate into the world,” says this affirmation of resilience.
Alexandra (Lexi) DuBose, a recent graduate of Easton Area High School, called her role in the mural creation “A big honor,” adding she hopes the wall will help people “Be ok, grow and learn to adapt and relax.”
It was a fitting message considering the Easton Campus’s commitment to behavioral health. Just this year, the campus opened a new Adolescent Behavioral Health Unit to provide safe, expert and compassionate care to children and adolescents experiencing serious mental, emotional or behavioral symptoms.
St. Luke’s Easton Campus President Linda Grass thanked the students, high school teachers and administrators and Lafayette College mentors for creating the mural to promote serenity and lift the spirits of viewers -- patients, families, hospital staff and community members -- who visit the installation, which is located near the hospital chapel.
“St. Luke’s is proud to sponsor the creation of this remarkable mural as we work every day to enhance the health of our community,” she said as she welcomed guests to the ribbon-cutting event. “What these talented young artists have done is to offer each of us an opportunity to find peace and hope here and then take them out into the world to share with our families, friends and neighbors.”