GHS Students Spruce Up Doggie Play Courtyard at Canines, Cats and Critters

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Gifft Hill School fourth graders paint St. John animals on the formerly drab walls of a dog play area outside of the new Canines, Cats and Critters.

Donkeys, goats and mongooses joined cats and dogs and even a bird on the walls outside of Canines, Cats and Critters’ new building last week.
The St. John veterinary office moved from its former digs at Palm Plaza to a new spot near the old Moses Laundry on Centerline Road last month. As the staff and patients settle into their new environment, three drab walls surrounding a courtyard dog play area just outside of the office were in need of some color.

Veterinarian and Canines, Cats and Critters owner Laura Palmintieri thought it would be fun to have her sons’ classmates transform the area, she explained.

“I have a son in the fourth grade and a son in the sixth grade at Gifft Hill School and I asked their art teacher about the project,” said Palmintieri. “She thought it was a great idea and had the students draw whatever they wanted as long as they were animals found on St. John.”

And so the St. John animal wall began. Gifft Hill School Art Teacher Rosemary Richards painted a  background of undulating hillsides on the walls and then asked students in fourth and sixth grades to draw their favorite St. John animals. Richards then traced those drawings of goats, dogs, cats, deer and donkeys onto transparency paper and projected them onto the walls of the courtyard.

When GHS fourth grade students arrived at Canines, Cats and Critters on Wednesday morning, January 11, the outlines of their animals were on the walls waiting to be painted.

Students grabbed paintbrushes and filled their pallets with bright hues. Donkeys were turning grey, cats were getting filled with white and dogs were getting stripes of all colors as GHS students set to work last week.

Sixth grade students are scheduled to paint their animals on the walls of the veterinarian’s dog play area this week. The sixth graders’ work will add foreground and landscaping to the scene, Richards explained.

“The older students’ work will be a bit more detailed and will really add the foreground and trees and birds to the scene,” she said.

While GHS usually doesn’t volunteer students’ time for businesses, Palmintieri has cared for the school’s pets for years, explained Richards.

“Dr. Laura has taken care of the school’s pets — our fish and cats — as well all island animals in need, for years and years,” said Richards. “Whenever we need Dr. Laura, on nights or weekends or whatever, she is always there for us. So this our way of saying, ‘Thanks.’”

The dogs who use the play area at Canines, Cats and Critters are sure to enjoy GHS students’ impressive mural.