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Village of Corfu unveils new welcome signs created by Pembroke students

By Howard B. Owens
corfu signs
Ileana Draper and Mayor Tom Sargent with one of the new Village of Corfu entryway signs that she and her classmates at Pembroke High School created for the village.
Photo by Howard Owens.

The welcome mat, in the form of entry signs into the village, will be a little brighter in Corfu beginning this summer.

After 15 years, the entry signs along the main thoroughfares into Corfu have become a bit faded, so the village board invited art students at Pembroke High School to design and paint new signs.

They wanted color, flowers, especially tulips, and a welcoming message.

That's what they got, and students involved in the project said they got to work on an exciting, meaningful project.

"It was a cool experience because we could kind of shape how things in our community look," said Kayla Reynolds, who just finished her senior year and is heading off in the fall to Roberts Wesleyan. "It was a fun project. We could be creative and try to represent our town in the best way possible."

Junior Sophie Crandall is thinking about making a career in art so the project was especially fascinating to her, she said.

"I just think it was really interesting getting to do such a big project with very little restriction," she said. "We kind of got to do whatever we wanted with those designs."

Fifteen years ago, a group of Pembroke students designed the outgoing signs, and when the village's maintenance supervisor Norm Waff noticed the signs were showing their age, he approached the village board about designing and painting a new set of signs.

Waff said he thinks the students are really talented and did a wonderful job.

"I think that it really gives the students an opportunity to get involved in activities of the village around Pembroke," Waff said.

Deputy Mayor Michael Doktor said the students were given only a little direction -- incorporate village history, which means flowers.

"Other than that, it was just really leaving it up to the kids' imagination and their creativity," Doktor said.

About tulips: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were five greenhouses in Corfu. The florists mainly grew tulips and the tiny village was one of the largest exporters of tulips in the nation. Changing tastes and the Great Depression led to the eventual demise of the tulip, but a couple of the greenhouses survived until just the past decade or so (both were heavily damaged by the 2009 tornado that blew through town) by growing mums.

Mayor Tom Sargent said the project both helps beautify the community as well as builds community spirit.

"This is something that keeps the kids involved in our community," Sargent said. "It's a way for them to give back. Now every time that they come into the village, even 10 years from now, the signs will still be here. They can say, 'I did that sign.'"

The fact that the students knew everybody entering the village over the next 10 or 15 years would see the signs really motivated them to do their best work, Reynolds said. 

"We really wanted it to be the best quality possible because people are gonna see it for -- we don't really know how many years -- and everyone that drives into Corfu is going to see these signs. We wanted them to be as finished and as professional looking as possible."

corfu signs
Kayla Reynolds with the sign she was most involved with creating.
Photo by Howard Owens.
corfu signs
Sophie Crandall with the sign she was most involved with creating.
Photo by Howard Owens.
corfu signs
Photo by Howard Owens
corfu signs
Jonah Martin and Lily Martin with Mayor Tom Sargent.

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