Former student returns to brighten up the school

Amber Cowden, Staff Writer

Maggie Donnellan, a graduate from Furman University, recently started her very first job as a Community Partners Coordinator for Elizabethton City Schools. Before she took on this role, however, she worked on making Sevier Middle a more beautiful place and painted large murals in several locations around the school

Donnellan used to be a student at Sevier Middle. Her mother, Kathleen Donnellan, is a seventh grade Language Arts teacher.

“In middle school, I talked a lot, probably too much for most teachers’ tastes,” Donnellan said. “I love to smile and perform, so I was involved in Sevier’s musicals and played oboe in the band.”

Sevier holds a special place in her heart.

“My mom started teaching at Sevier when I was in first grade, so I went there every day after school for years,” she said. “I really feel like the teachers, faculty and staff all had a big part in my upbringing.”

Donnellan began painting around the school thanks to a science teacher’s request.

“[Jenny] McKlveen asked me to paint her room first,” Donnellan said. “When [Holly] Flora saw it, she encouraged any teacher to reach out to me. The rest is history.”

Donnellan enjoys art because she tends to rush through things when she is excited, but art forces her to take her time and focus on the details of the world around her.

“I truly believe art is not about your materials,” Donnellan said. “All you need is a pencil and paper and you can create anything.”

She believes patience, a pencil and paper are the most important things needed to be a good artist.

In the process of creating her art, teachers would often already have ideas for Donnellan. Sometimes, when a teacher didn’t give her an idea, she would think of something and than paint it.

While she was painting at Sevier, she loved spending time with her former teachers and make new friends with the students.

“I hope I can influence someone who thinks they can’t or shouldn’t do art to try anyway,” Donnellan said. “Art doesn’t come naturally to everyone, me included, and that’s so important to remember.”

Sevier students and teachers have given Donnellan a lot of feedback about her art.

“I have only heard positive feedback thus far,” she said.

There is a small project that Donnellan was unhappy with, but when she has time, she plans on returning to Sevier to re-do that project.

As far as her favorite project, it is actually a tie.

“I love the mural in the front office, but the sunshine wall in [Megan] Roop’s room is one that I would paint in my own bedroom if I had the time,” she said. “I love the simplicity of it.”

Donnellan has some advice for middle school students.

“Dream big and choose joy,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it is art or music or basketball or math, do what makes you happy and keep doing it! Don’t let anyone, even friends, get you down. You can do anything you set your mind to.”

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