Faith in Our Future
PRIDE IN OUR PAST
The Apollo Mosaic/Mural Project incorporates seven 5’x6’ oval mosaics that celebrate the past, present, and future of the town mounted on a 50’x15’ mural that expands upon the topics presented by the mosaics. All but one of the figures on the mural are silhouettes of actual students and staff of Apollo-Ridge High School. Over 100 students, staff, and community members participated in the creation and installation of the project. The project began late August 2017 and was installed July 2018.
1 – Viking Pride: A-R
Apollo-Ridge School District was formed in 1969 when Elders Ridge and Apollo merged. Students are shown engaging in STEM +A-Rts education.
2 – Officer Leonard C. Miller
Officer Miller was gunned down January 3, 1980, during the infamous Kill for Thrill spree. He is standing in front of the “In the Line of Duty” memorial (left) and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union building (right) which housed the first library in Armstrong County and is now houses the Apollo Area Historical Society’s museum.
3 – Service Men and Women
General Samuel M. Jackson, who served in the Civil War and helped organize the Apollo Trust Company upon his return to Apollo, stands beside male and female soldiers representing all who bravely served and continue to serve their country.
4 – Warrens’ Sleeping Place 1769
Apollo was originally named after fur trapper, Edward Warren, who developed a friendly relationship with the local Native Americans. Drake’s Log Cabin (right), built around 1816, is the oldest remaining structure from the town’s origins. The last occupant passed away in 1965 and the Historical Society formed when the cabin was purchased from her family in 1970.
5 – Nellie Bly
Born Elizabeth Jane Cochrane in Cochran’s Mills, her home on Terrace Avenue was designated an historical landmark in 1995. She gained fame as the intrepid reporter who traveled the world in 72 days breaking the record of fictional character Phileas Fog. She stands in front of the Hotel Belvedere, now in ruins, that is directly across the tracks from where the West Apollo Train Station was located.
6 – Roots of Industry
From brickworks to steel, and from textiles to retail, Apollo has been home to wide variety of business, industry, and agriculture. Most notably, Apollo Trust Company (left), established in 1871, is still in business today. The woolen mill, Apollo Bottling Company, coal mining, steel industry, and agriculture are all represented on this panel.
7 – APOLLO, PA
The town’s name changed from Warren in 1948 and when Apollo 11 landed successfully on the moon in July 1969, the Borough began a summer tradition in honor of the mission that shares its name. Today’s Apollo is looking somewhat similar to yesterday’s Warren as the community returns to the rivers and trails as a pathway to revitalization. The Apollo Bridge was replaced with the Leonard Miller Memorial Bridge in January 2005. The borough was designed around the “Big Maple” (Warren/N. 3rd) which dated back to 1806. Destroyed in the “Racket Store Fire” on Oct. 21, 1911 it stood over 100’ tall with a 21’ circumference. Did you know APOLLO PA is a palindrome?
Mural / Mosaic
PHASE I Of THE PROJECT
This incredible undertaking involved middle school students creating the mosaics and high school students designing and painting the mural backdrop. The project was a collaboration between IUP's ArtsPath who provided the clay and mosaic artists to work with the students. The entire project from start to dedication took a year to complete. Click the button to go to the Facebook group that tracked the progress of the mural. The photo gallery highlights the mosaic portion which took six months to complete all 7 pieces.
Creating the Mosaics
The idea for the project came from a study by the Allegheny Ridge Corporation to find ways to draw interest to the small towns along the rivers. The Education Foundation contacted IUP's ArtsPath to set up an artist residency with the idea of creating a mural. At the time, the recommended muralist was not available, but Laura Jean McLaughlin, a clay artist, was available. The idea was to create mosaics to tell Apollo's story with a mural backdrop to enhance the mosaics.
The students were introduced to the history of mosaics and the history of Apollo and took that knowledge to come up with the concepts for the 7 ovals.
Many thanks to the students, educators, artists, and funders who made the Apollo Mosaic/Mural Project possible!
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Artist in Residence August 2017—May 2018
Laura Jean McLaughlin, Mosaic Artist
Bernie Wilke, Community Muralist
Matthew Ferguson, Secondary Art Teacher
Apollo-Ridge Art Students in Grades 7, 8, 11 & 12
Richard & Michelle George
Building Owners and Underwriters for Interpretive Sign
Indiana University of Pennsylvania Artspath
Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation
Apollo Bicentennial Committee
Allegheny Ridge Corporation – the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway™
The Rock at Spring Church
Creating the Mural
The mural was designed and created by high school students lead by muralist Bernie Wilke. The colorful backdrop for the mosaics takes you from dawn to dusk and captures the progression of the natural resources from that of pristine to polluted and then restored.
It begins with a trail through the woods developing into a rail line carrying coal that morphs into the rails-to-trail recreational area used for biking, hiking, kayaking, and fishing.
Also illustrated are a 6’ long train hauling coal; life size deer, fox, and heron; a multitude of area flora and fauna; and a likeness of the West Apollo Train Station.
Points of interest include:
Dylan Zelonka (2019) and Dylan Snyder (2019) passing a football;
Kiarra Reilly (2018) swimming through the clouds;
Parker Berry (2019) and Noah Leonarski (2019) addressing the opioid crisis with R.A.I.D.;
Art teacher, Matthew Ferguson fishing after his retirement;
Josh Cibik (2019) shooting a planet at the moon;
Christopher “CJ” Walker piloting “The Hot Pocket” down the Kiski;
Mackenzie Jack (2018) biking on the Roaring Run Trail;
Hayden Shedlock (2019) jogging on the Roaring Run Trail;
and Macy Bowser (2018) and Miranda Zawodniak (2018) hiking on Roaring Run Trail.
Oral History of
PHASE II Of THE PROJECT
Upon completion of the original mural/mosaic, there was 10 feet of space still open on the side of the building. That section was completed by the participants at the Apollo Senior Center in the summer of 2019. Open the link below to view the scrapbook of this exciting intergenerational collaboration between the school and community.
Recognizing the value of the individuals who shaped our community, the Education Foundation thought it only fitting that their recollections should be featured on the final piece of the Pride in Our Past, Faith in Our Future mural.
Participants at the Apollo Senior Center were thrilled to be involved. Their stories of growing up in Apollo were recorded and played back to develop the design for the mosaic which recalls their memories of roller skating at the Valarena, relaxing in The Grove under the ancient oaks, riding the trolley to Griftlo Park, and working in the salt mines.
Apollo-Ridge High School art students created the mural backdrop that represents Jackson Falls, a ’57 Chevy, the “singing” bridge with the grated decking, and an elderly couple walking along
Roaring Run Trail.
Press the button on the speaker to hear President Kennedy’s "We choose to go to the Moon” introduction followed by a clip about the God Apollo, after which the town is reportedly named. Marlene Beck, Evelyn McGuire, Yvonne Shafer, and Kim McAfee share their memories of Apollo which were the inspiration for the mosaic’s design.
ArtsPath at Indiana University of Pennsylvania Artist-in-Residency Projects, supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
The Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation was established in 1996 to fund teacher grants for innovative classroom projects. Since 2013, the Foundation’s support has increased ten-fold from donations received through grant writing, special events, and participation in Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit program.
Bernie Wilke, Muralist, Spring 2019
Laura Jean McLaughlin, Mosaic Artist, Summer 2019
Ricardo Robinson, Sound Recordist, Summer 2019
Daniel Barrett, Secondary Art Teacher
Apollo-Ridge High School Art Students
Participants at the Apollo Senior Center
Richard & Michelle George, Building Owners
Installation and Dedication Fall 2019
Marlene Galiszewski | Megan Tipton | Al Frantik | Pastor Terry Jones