When SD43 principal Heather Murphy moved from Terry Fox secondary to Dr. Charles Best secondary two years ago, she noticed there wasn’t much at the Coquitlam high school to pay tribute to its namesake.
Dr. Best, after all, was one of the world’s most influential medical scientists who, at the University of Toronto with Dr. Frederick Banting, discovered insulin to treat the millions of diabetics who have the disease today.
At Terry Fox secondary and a previous school she was at in Surrey, Murphy worked with Mission artist Dean Lauzé to create spirit murals.
“I thought, Who better to take on this project than Dean?” Murphy recalled.
Last year, in the Best cafeteria, Lauzé and his D’Arts business partner, wife Christina (a high school math teacher), painted with Best’s school colours of blue, black and silver to replicate the scientist’s image. Last October, the likeness got the nod from Dr. Best’s granddaughter who visited the Como Lake Avenue school before returning home to England, Murphy said.
In addition to the Dr. Best portrait, the Lauzés added hexagon shapes — each with symbols indicating school subjects plus a timeline of Best’s career — a scene of Mundy Park and the school motto in English and French: Be Your Best.
Still, it was the devil male and female tails, which weaved through the hexagons, that caught many students by surprise.
Dr. Charles Best secondary is the Home of the Blue Devils, and when Murphy tapped Lauzé for two more murals this year, he said he was eager to expand on the character’s elements.
As Best was on the SD43 improvements list this summer for a new gym floor and exterior painting, Murphy tied in Lauzé for the new designs, using students’ feedback.
In September, on the outside east wall, Lauzé airbrushed and brush painted the school name shooting out of a hexagon and a devil tail whipping over “Home of the Blue Devils.” The triangle tip of the tail is cut to signify a war wound. “We wanted to get it done quickly while we still had good weather,” he said.
And, last month, he and his wife — along with their son, Josh, and assistant Kevin Plastow — wrapped up the gym. Over the course of two weeks, they used acrylic paints and clear vanish to create a floor mural as well as a wall banner, with the top of the devil’s head and horns peaking through.
Funding for the two murals came from the Parent Advisory Council and the student activity fee fund, which typically is spent on property cleanup “but we’ve been lucky. There has been no vandalism here so we had money to spare,” Murphy said.
Now, she said, Lauzé’s imagery is being incorporated into the new spirit wear.
Lauzé is no stranger to B.C. school districts having produced more than 200 murals over the past 25 years.
In SD43, D’Arts decorated the gym with a massive phoenix — with its wings spread — at Port Moody secondary; his work also graces the gym walls at Port Coquitlam’s Minnekhada middle school, complete with wild horses for the Minnekhada Mustangs.