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Third grade self-portraits on display downtown

Fore Solon funds banners to celebrate youth, civic partnerships

SOLON– A bunch of third graders are hanging out downtown.
Self-portraits of Lakeview Elementary students are now hanging on Main Street banners thanks to Fore Solon.
Fore Solon committee member Rick Jedlicka came up with the idea a few years ago while on vacation in Colorado.
In a small town south of Denver, Jedlicka noticed a lot of local artwork hanging in storefront windows and thought it was a great idea.
Last fall, he was trying to figure out how to do something similar in Solon.
“I was uptown one day and I saw the banners and I thought, that’s the perfect option,” he recalled.
He connected with Lakeview Elementary art teacher Jackie Meier, and as it happened, the third grade class was working on self-portraits when Jedlicka visited.
“She said ‘What do you think about this?’ and I said ‘I think that’d be the perfect thing to do,’” he noted.
Third graders finished their artwork around Thanksgiving, he reported.
With only about two-dozen light poles downtown, Jedlicka was not in a position to reproduce all of the self-portraits.
Meier ended up pulling a handful from each of the five sections of third grade. Jedlicka took the Lakeview self-portraits to Elite Sports, in Williamsburg, and the staff there created the banners.
Close to 50 students will have their artwork displayed, with half hanging now and the rest rotated after a few weeks.
Solon Public Works Director Scott Kleppe said it only takes his staff a couple of hours to hang the banners, which were added to the Main Street streetscape as part of the reconstruction project almost 10 years ago.
The city only has two sets of banners to hang on the posts, he said, one for Beef Days and one for the Christmas season.
Kleppe said the new Fore Solon banners would stay up until the city prepares for Beef Days.
He welcomed the new addition, noting the city always hoped to have other reasons for switching them out.
As fate would have it for Jedlicka, it came at a time when people could use something to distract them from weeks of social distancing.
“Given everything going on right now, we all could use something to kind of lift our spirits,” he said.
He’s hopeful the banners provide another diversion for the community.
“I know we can’t get together in large groups, but we can drive by and try to identify the kids,” he added.
It’s another example of the school and the city trying to work together on a community project to salute area youth, he observed.
Several of the banners carry the message of working together to celebrate the future, he noted.
It’s a way of staying strong together, Jedlicka added.
“I think it turned out great. I’m just excited,” he said. “And the timing I thought was perfect.”
Fore Solon will buy more of the mounts for the banners and install them at school buildings in the future, he said.
He’d like to continue the program in some way, whether it’s high school artwork or something involving the lower grade levels.
“I think there’s opportunities to showcase all the great things we have going on,” he stated. “This a simple way to do that.”
The Fore Solon committee is normally knee-deep in preparations for its annual charity golf outing in mid-June, but the third annual event has been postponed.
With its mission statement, “An organization whose passion is to provide resources for Solon youth as they grow up within our community,” the Fore Solon committee hosted its inaugural three-person best shot golf outing in July of 2018 at Saddleback Golf Course.
Jedlicka said the group is hoping to reschedule the golf outing for late summer or fall, but if not, they will hold off and come back in 2021 stronger than ever.
“There’s just no way we thought it would work for us to pull that off in June,” he said.
Fore Solon was formed by a trio of local residents with roots in city and school government. Steve Duncan, a current city council member and a former school administrator, and Jim Hauer and Jedlicka, former and current school board members, formed the organization along with spouses Barb Duncan, Jan Miller and Terri Jedlicka
The idea came from Hauer’s experience helping run a similar annual event in West Union. Duncan also orchestrated similar golf tournaments during his time at Valley High School, in West Des Moines.
The committee attempts to select projects impacting as many kids as possible, Jedlicka said. Funds raised in 2018 went toward improvements at the Solon Community Center, including Wi-Fi and a new screen and digital projector for the auditorium.
More recently, the group provided funding to enhance public playgrounds in the Fox Ridge subdivision.
“We’re still looking for other ideas for community projects,” Jedlicka noted. Fore Solon is looking at a couple of projects with the city because there’s still some money left, he added.
“If anybody’s got a suggestion for a project, let us know.”
Contact Stephanie Dooley at Bridge Community Bank, 319-624-7111.