Aquinas art students inspire with pro-life artwork

A billboard on Highway 64 near Bellwood witnesses the creativity and passion of art students from Aquinas Catholic High School in David City, who used their talent and dedication to share pro-life messages.

More than two decades ago, the David City Knights of Columbus Tihen Council initiated a pro-life billboard project. Today, the responsibility of maintaining the billboard as a symbol of hope and advocacy lies in the hands of the Knights of Columbus Mary Queen of Angels Council 15944 in Bellwood.

During the 2022-2023 school year, Keith Shonka, grand knight of the Mary Queen of Angels Council, approached Aquinas art instructor Mrs. Lyssa Tvrdy with the idea of updating their pro-life billboard.

“It was awesome that the Knights of Columbus thought of us for this project,” Tvrdy said.

The students – seniors Natalie Kovar, Delayne Adamy, Rachel Wacker, Aletha Breiner, Brooke Hoelscher, Veronica Reimers, Toni Wachel, Jocelyn Stara, Joshua Palik, and junior Josiah Brezina – were given creative freedom to craft different design layouts and quotes. Ultimately, the Mary Queen of Angels Council selected the designs.

One side of the billboard features hands forming a heart, accompanied by the poignant quote from the Dr. Suess children’s book: “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Brezina, who proposed the quote, described it as both powerful and simple.

The other side of the billboard includes an illustration of a pre-born child alongside the profound statement, “God does not make mistakes. Choose Life!”

This pro-life billboard is the largest art project completed at Aquinas Catholic, Each side has 10 pieces of 4 x 10-foot sheets of plywood. The piece was completed and placed on display by the Knights and volunteers over the summer.

Brezina’s summer job took him by the billboard every morning and night.

“It is well thought out and beautiful,” he reminisced. “I am very proud of it.”

The pro-life billboard sends a powerful, much-needed message, in a huge way.

“I hope that people see the billboard and take comfort in the fact that the youth are interested in the abortion issue and that we have a voice on the subject,” explained Brooke Hoelscher.

Throughout Aquinas history, art students and teachers have left their mark with awe-inspiring creations in differing media throughout the school. The high school hallway was painted and accented with decorated tile in 2006 under the guidance of Mrs. Amy Tomasevicz.

Outside the south gym, a large lion – the school mascot, a “Monarch” – is proudly displayed in the hallway above the concessions stand. The acrylic painting was completed by students in 2016 under the direction of Mrs. Joan Cech. Cech also guided the creation of a glass mosaic in the shape of a cross now located over the activity entrance.

In 2020, under Mrs. Tvrdy’s guidance, Aquinas art students created a full color, 14-piece wood nativity set that decorates the lawn in front of the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel during the Christmas season.

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