Credit: Credit: Albemarle County Public Schools

State Transportation Department’s Keep Virginia Moving Campaign Will Be a Work of Art for Local Students This Winter

An unusual art project will find its way along neighborhood streets this winter at the sign of the first snowfall. That’s when six snow plows from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will take to local roads adorned with the imaginative talents of Albemarle County Public Schools art students. 

The Paint-a-Plow program is part of the transportation department’s community partnership initiatives, which also include career days and high school driver education classes. The program began when a department employee and his daughter, a school teacher, came up with the idea as an enjoyable and creative way to connect students to their communities.

One of the most iconic objects of snow removal is a snow plow, the department says. Adding together plows, plow drivers, school students, and a little paint make for a colorful lesson on safety and collaboration. 

“This partnership is a great opportunity for VDOT to engage with our community while also educating students, teachers and others about our activities and driver safety,” said Joel DeNunzio, VDOT’s resident engineer in Charlottesville. “When the plows are out on the roads this winter, they will be visible reminders of the outstanding work our students do in school and the many ways art influences our lives every day.”

Last month, the department delivered snow plows to several schools throughout the division, including Agnor-Hurt, Hollymead, and Stone-Robinson elementary schools; Burley and Jouett middle schools; and Monticello High School. Since then, art students have collaborated on the design for the plows and joined together to bring those designs to life. The plows, with their finished artwork, are being picked up by the transportation department later this week, when department staff will meet with students to offer their thanks.

“The state department of transportation folks certainly provided our students with a highly unique experience,” said Ona Kircher, who teaches art at Stone-Robinson. “I have worked with students on a variety of surfaces over the years, but never a snow plow,” she added. 

Kircher said the school held a design contest open to grades 1 through 5, and the winner was a combination of suggestions made by two students. “It depicts monster teeth eating snow with a caption reading ‘Hey Snow! You’re coming with me!’ Each fifth grader had an opportunity to paint the background and add a snowflake through printmaking—a technique we learned at the start of the school year,” she added. 

The transportation department said it will try to deploy the plows in the general areas surrounding the school communities where they were painted. When feasible, the department will use the plows in local parades and at other events. 

“That’s really what makes this so special. Students and their families and friends will be able to see our artwork on wheels in the community. We plan to keep track of our ‘Snow Plow Sightings’ through social media and a chart outside our art room. Our school is very grateful to have had this special experience,” Kircher said.