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Vinyl Pride flag art installed at New Westminster Secondary

New Westminster, B.C. 鈥 Staff and students at New Westminster Secondary (NWSS) have a new work of art to admire after the school mounted a vinyl pride flag art installation on June 4. The piece is located on the first floor at the entrance of a hallway adjacent to the grand commons area.

鈥淧ride is so much bigger than just one month out of the year,鈥 said Shannon Isaak, the NWSS teacher who created the exhibit. 鈥淚t鈥檚 a movement of celebration and resilience that demonstrates the importance of living as our full, authentic selves.鈥

Isaak envisioned the project to celebrate Pride and to encourage Grade 8s from the district鈥檚 middle schools to work on something they will themselves see daily when starting high school this coming year. She invited a handful of Grade 8 students from Glenbrook Middle School, Fraser River Middle School, and Queensborough Middle School to help put up the flag over the span of a single morning.

鈥淚 wanted to include some of our incoming Grade 9s so they could begin getting to know each other and feel a sense of community at NWSS,鈥 said Isaak. Staff at the middle schools helped select the students who they felt would enjoy participating.

The abstract piece consists of vinyl cut outs in the shape of colourful circles and hearts that, when arranged, form an image of a Pride flag. The design is based on the 2021 Intersex-inclusive variant of the flag created by Valentino Vecchietti, a member of Intersex Equality Rights UK.

Isaak digitally sketched the initial outline on a tablet and uploaded the project to a cutting machine. The machine etched the individual shapes that make up the flag on coloured vinyl superimposed on adhesive mats, producing a ready-to-peel, sticker-like final product.

To satisfy fire regulations, the art piece could not cover more than 20 per cent of the wall. Isaak enlisted NWSS mathematics teacher Lindsay Seto to calculate the exhibit space鈥檚 surface area, which dictated how many square centimetres the design could take up.

鈥淐alculating the surface area helped us determine the allowable size of the design鈥檚 hearts and circles to create a design that would be visually impactful and still meet safety regulations,鈥 said Isaak.

In addition to their regular teaching duties, Isaak is a longtime supporter of SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) in the New Westminster school district. They have served as SOGI school lead at New Westminster Secondary School for eight years and is currently a New Westminster Teacher鈥檚 Union representative on the district鈥檚 SOGI Advisory Committee.

鈥淲e had an opportunity in the school to create visuals that represent the diversity of our school community and let our students see themselves in the space,鈥 said Isaak. 鈥淚t鈥檚 important for students to feel valued and included 鈥 that鈥檚 what this project was all about.鈥