Mary and Baby Jesus Welcome All to New Rochelle School


At Holy Family School in New Rochelle, a newly constructed image of the Madonna and Child, made almost entirely of buttons, is on display.

It is the creative work of Mrs. Jill Holmes, who came on board in October as the school’s art teacher, and more than 70 of her students from pre-K (age 4) to 8th grade—half of the school’s enrollment. The project was meant to beautify the new school location with Christian significance, and not to earn a grade.

The framed image hangs on a wall in the main entrance of the school at 100 Mount Joy Place, which re-opened as Holy Family in September. (Students had formerly attended Holy Name of Jesus School, also in New Rochelle.)

“We started in November, and we finished a week ago,” Mrs. Holmes told Catholic New York in a Feb. 14 phone interview, noting that students in the lower grades helped mostly with sorting buttons during the weekly project, and the older students mainly glued the buttons together. The colorful image, which measures 3 feet by 4 1/2 feet, has drawn a lot of positive feedback from parents, Mrs. Holmes said.

About 2,500 buttons and nearly 200 beads were used in all.

“Our next project will be to create a giant white dove made out of recycled bottle caps. It will be for the cafeteria. I’m trying to teach them that you can use recyclables to create beautiful artwork without spending a lot of money,” the teacher added. She said that the next project will begin soon and end by early June.

At the bottom of the image are the words: Mary, Mother of God. Fifth-grader Allyson Jerome said, “It was fun. I put the ‘M’ in Mary.” Allyson said she likes art class and science very much.

Fourth-grader Zachary Harrow said he enjoyed participating in the special project. “I organized the buttons; they were buttons of different sizes. I always wanted to do a project for the whole school, and now I did it.”

The school principal, Mrs. Joanne Kelly, said, “Students and families donated (many buttons), some parishioners too; we also bought some. We’re so lucky to have her (Mrs. Holmes) as our art teacher. She’s such an inspiration—she’s a blessing.”