Hannalise Pedone and Ronnie Soucy, both first-grade students at Lafayette School in Sanford, apply paint to the crosswalk, one of two that students painted on Monday. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

SANFORD – Youngsters dipped their paint rollers into trays of bright yellow, red, blue and other primary colors, and rolled them carefully onto the taped off sections of the crosswalks outside Lafayette School.

It was Monday morning and the sun was shining – a perfect day near the end of the school year for the project.

Easton Hensel, a student at Lefayette School in Sanford, smooths blue paint on a section of crosswalk on Monday morning. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

It was designed, said Sanford’s City Planning Director Beth Della Valle, as a way to make a positive investment in the community in Sanford that lies east of the Mousam River.

And of course, it was fun – and not as messy as it could have been, because the youngsters all sported painting “smocks” (read big T-shirts), and protective gloves.

“They’ve been so excited about doing this,” said Lafayette School Principal Sharon Remick as she watched the youngsters, in groups of eight, take turns painting a section of crosswalk.

In all, two crosswalks, one at Thompson Street and one at Brook Street were painted, one section at a time.

“It’s cool,” said painter Gracie O’Brien. “It’s fun,” said painter Thomas Anamateros. Both students are in the first grade.

The project is one of two that are part of the GrowSmart Maine “Making Headway” program. The second will bring special street signs to the area, designating them as part of Sanford’s East Side.

The East Side neighborhood has been  described by those who live there as a tight-knit, caring community.

Gracie O’Brien, a student at Sanford’s Lafayette School, smooths red paint on a crosswalk at  the school on Monday. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

Eventually, Lafayette School, built in 1939, will close, when all of Sanford’s elementary and middle school renovation projects are complete. Once the building is no longer a functioning school, it will revert to the municipality. Ultimately, the Sanford City Council will decide on next steps, but there has been an effort to look at ways the building that has been a part of the community for many years might be repurposed.

During the winter, residents gathered and talked about the neighborhood and possible future uses for the school building.

While it remains a neighborhood school at least in the short-term, those who thought of the painting plan at Lafayette said “why not?”

“Other communities were doing it, and I liked it,” said Planning Board member Dianne Connolly. “I’ve seem it in other communities, so why not do it here? I wanted (the students) to have something of their own.”

Della Valle said she’s seen similar crosswalks at Ocean Avenue School and another Portland school.

Once the project is complete, the city’s Public Works Department will brighten up the white portion of the crosswalk with fresh paint.

“This is a expression of the neighborhood’s ‘can do’ spirit,” said Della Valle.

Joselyn Hamilton paints yellow om a crosswalk outside Lefayette School in Sanford on Monday, while Kaitlyn Oddy of Learning Works dispenses some painting advice. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

The painting was a true community effort – complete with donations of paint and supplies from Sherwin-Williams, a $1,000 grant from GrowSmart Maine, painting supplies from Cabana Auto Body, Deering Lumber, and discounted supplies from Springvale Hardware, bottles of water from Circle K, ice from Getchell Brothers, labor from Learning Works who helped guide students as they painted, and ice pops from resident Stacey Hensel.

As the students painted, Hensel, who has two children at Lafayette School, said small projects like the crosswalk painting can have a ripple effect.

“It’s wonderful,” she said, of the project. “It is exactly what Sanford needs. Sanford is going in a direction that has been needed for quite a while.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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