'Nutra-Man' to the rescue, 8th graders creating wall mural

Apr. 03, 2014 @ 06:47 AM

Watching over the eating students of Hudson Middle School, Nutra-Man -- part man but mostly Hudson hornet -- reminds kids about the importance of eating nutritious foods. He’s big, strong, bursting from a concrete wall, and nearly finished.

Kelly Woodie’s eighth-grade art class has been working on a gigantic wall mural of Nutra-Man and his “Hive Food Groups” almost every day during art class and after school. Nutra-Man takes up the majority of the mural, with a banner portraying the food groups off to his side. There is a mighty milk carton with bulging muscles, an army of broccoli marching behind a carrot, and a zombie bread slice known as “The Walking Bread.”

Emilee Icenhour, Woodie’s student teacher, is the driving force behind the project. In order to graduate from Appalachian State University, Icenhour is required to do an impact project. Woodie described the assignment as one “that will impact [students’s] lives here at the school and beyond.” But Icenhour wanted to do more than just a simple art project. She decided to tie it in with nutrition as well, making the project interdisciplinary and fulfilling the state’s health requirements. She asked her students what they thought of when they heard the word “nutrition.”

“I’m glad to have an impact project that’s meaningful, not just ‘Here’s how you draw a face,’” Icenhour said.

First, Icenhour taught a lesson on murals, starting with ancient paintings and leading up to murals found in Caldwell County. Then, she asked the students about nutrition.

The class came up with a comic book-themed mural, featuring Nutra-Man. Abby Drum, 13, created the healthy Hudson hornet. Drum worked on three or four drafts before sketching her creation on the cafeteria wall. She said she looked at comic book heroes such as the Green Lantern and Superman to gather inspiration. Then, she compared them to the middle school’s mascot. Thus, Nutra-Man was born.

Drum has been “drawing as long as I can remember.” She hopes to become a film animator and has a huge heart for Disney Pixar movies.

Every student in the class participates in the making of the mural, from painting the first coat of primer to putting on the painstaking detail of the characters.

Icenhour hopes the project will be complete before school lets out. She graduates in May, and while she does not have a job lined up yet, Icenhour would enjoy teaching somewhere in Caldwell County.