Paul Cuffee Students Win First Prize at Street Painting Festival


Upper School artists complete award-winning street art at the Providence Rotary Street Painting Festival. (L to R) Ms. Kelly Lee, Jasmine T. (alumna), Maria B., Ariel T., Pa Y., Scarlet G., Emily C., (second row) Wenricka G. Not pictured: Kelly S.

Stepping over and around kneeling artists, water bottles, and racks of chalk was worth it to view the striking designs painted by Paul Cuffee students during September’s Providence Rotary Street Painting Festival.

The upper school, under the direction of art teacher Kelly Lee, placed first among the high schools represented and the middle school, instructed by art teacher Amy Weigand, filled two squares with intriguing artistic puzzles.

Left free to devise their own design, students brainstormed artistic representations that “told their story.” Middle school artists created two optical illusions, both with “falling into the depths” as their theme. One, a bridge over a dark well; the other pieces of chalk cascading through tunnels of color.

The award-winning upper school design depicted “inside the teenage brain.” Created by 11th grader Pa Yang, it communicates the challenges and fears facing youth today. The group brainstormed ideas and issues to portray. Ms. Lee noted, “Young people are facing a world heavily impacted by climate change and other possibly negative impacts of war, oppression, industrialization and globalization. We arrived at this imagery through surrealist exercises tapping into our subconscious minds. These student artists also value education as a path to empowerment and ‘freedom’. These ideas came to the surface and are communicated in a sophisticated, nuanced way in this work.”

Cuffee squares were sponsored by Cuffee supporter, Ms. Holly Applegate, and the Middle School Parents.


(Left Image) Middle School artists plot out their “tunnels of color” for their entry into the Providence Rotary Street Painting festival. (Right Image) Middle School artists (left to right) Zoe C., Roma T., Katrina W., Ms. Amy Weigand, (back) Arianna M., Dario A., Gerson M., and Declan O. display their bridge over a deep well optical illusion at the Providence Rotary Street Painting Festival.


Average Class Size: 20
Current Enrollment: 820
Students of Color: 96%
Female Students: 51%
Male Students: 49%
Free/Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility: 82%
Multi-Language Learners: 19%
Students Receiving Special Education Services: 13%
Total Employees: 168
BIPOC: 45%
Female Employees: 75%
Male Employees: 25%