WORTHINGTON — “Connect with nature.” “Listen to music.” “Sleep.” “Go on a walk.”

Those were the types of simple messages Worthington High School students were asked to illustrate on windows at Sanford Worthington Medical Center this week. WHS art teacher Gail Holinka and about 15 students spent portions of three days engaged in painting at the hospital.

Members of the school’s AOK (Art, Optimist, Kiwanis) Club were involved in the painting, and Holinka said the project was also open to any student interested in volunteering.

“The hospital had emailed Mr. (Superintendent John) Landgaard and he forwarded it to me, asking if this is something we should do,” Holinka said. “I thought it was something we had to do.”

Sanford staff supplied a sketch of what they had in mind for the windows, and WHS students began their work Monday by creating layouts of the images. Painting began Tuesday and continued Wednesday, with different students offering their help on different days.

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“It’s good for the kids,” Holinka said. “They’ve been cooped up at home with distance learning, and this way they connect with some people and be part of a nice community service project. That’s kind of what AOK Club is about.”

Students used tempera paint that was mixed with a bit of soap to make the cleaning process easier once the artwork is eventually removed. In the meantime, Holinka hopes the painted windows will brighten the moods of individuals entering and leaving the hospital lobby.

“The goal is to bring a little happiness in the midst of rough days,” she said, adding that students “used to paint windows downtown at the holidays, but it’s been a long time since we’ve done that.”

Among the students busy over the noon hour Wednesday were junior Emma Singler and freshman Ben Schreiber. Both had seen a post about the window project on Schoology, a social messaging service used throughout Worthington Independent School District 518.

“I like to paint and it’s a great way to volunteer,” said Singler, who added that students had the opportunity to be creative even though they were following a template. “We get to decide how the lettering looks and how the stroke work looks. For the trees, the leaves would look different than, say, the trunks.”

Schreiber said he was partly interested in helping with the project because he’s looking ahead to PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Options) and potential National Honor Society membership, but was also happy to be part of a bigger group effort.

“I definitely like helping out the community,” he said. “There are a lot of people working here (at the hospital) who have a lot of stress, and hopefully this can make them smile.”