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Trilladelphia (True, Real Philadelphia) Mosaic by Red and Orange Streams

This year was SLA’s first annual Challenge Week. Challenge Week is the final, full week of school, in this case, from June 13th through June 16th. All of the freshmen, sophomore, and junior streams collaborated with each other to work on separate service learning projects. Red and Orange Streams collaborated together to work on a mosaic inspired by Isaiah Zagar’s Philly Magic Gardens.

Students were first told about Challenge Week in the beginning of the year. Students were told that Red and Orange Streams will be working together to create a mosaic and we discussed some of the things people could bring in and how we are going to set this up. In May, after all of the students forgot about Challenge Week, our two streams got together again and talked about what the week is going to look like.  

On Monday, Red and Orange streams met early in the morning for the trip to the Magic Gardens. After a tiring walk from school to 10th and South Streets, we entered the Magic Gardens and were amazed by the detail and thought put in by Isaiah Zagar. Zagar had put together a beautiful array of mosaics throughout the building and the surrounding areas. As seen below we were amazed at his story and what he had spent his life doing.

Freshmen ​Bea, Sydney, Leo, and Caroline enjoying a Monday at the Philly Magic Gardens.
The next day, we began working on our own mosaic. Unfortunately, our tile and glue orders never arrived making Ms. Giorgio and Srta. Manuel take a road trip to New Jersey to go buy some themselves. Once they made their way back to Philadelphia in the early afternoon, we were able to start our work. Red and Orange Streams’ students cut the mirrors and smashed the tiles. With the help of Yaara, Zagar’s former right-hand woman we were able to put all the tiles on the wall by the end of the day. Going into our final day, we knew we were on pace to have a successful Challenge Week project.

Bea and Caroline beginning the work on the mural by gluing tiles onto the wall.
Tuesday's finished progress on the wall.
On Wednesday, the students of Red and Orange Streams started the grouting process. We decided on a maroon grout, and the students got to work grouting and making the mosaic come to life. We also split into groups to write speeches, invite people, write articles, and prepare our mural.

Sarah mixing the grout.
Meymey, Alyssa, Ben, Amelia, and Carolina inviting the media, Isaiah Zagar, and many other dignitaries to our presentation.
image1 (2)
The finished grouting.
​On Thursday, we were able to make some finishing touches on the mosaic. Once we were done, we hosted many dignitaries, SLA students, staff, and parents to our ribbon cut ceremony. Christina Santana, Kwan Hopkins, Amado Alfaro-Allah, Avi Cantor, and Darlenny Rodriguez made short speeches and the ribbon was cut.

We would like to thank Isaiah Zagar and everyone else at the Philly Magic Gardens for allowing us to feel inspired by their work. We also want to thank Ms. Giknis, Ms. Giorgio, Srta. Manuel, and Ms. Johnson for buying us the supplies that allowed us to be awesome. A big thank you also goes out to Naima’s mother and Yaara for helping teach us how to cut glass, smash tiles, cement the tiles onto the wall, and grout the tiles. Another great thanks to Santucci’s Pizza for providing us with lunch.

We pulled information and inspiration from our trip to the Magic Gardens to make a mosaic. So what did we learn from all of this? We learned how to collaborate with two streams, make a mosaic and make a mosaic with our values and Isaiah Zagar’s style.

Written by:
Majd Bostani
Autumn Lor
Leo Cassel-Siskind
Becca Snyder
Eli Zimmerman
Shamus Keough