Clay Peer and Stephanie Skow filling in pine trees. Photo by Juliana Luna.

This article was written by BenitoLink intern Juliana Luna

Students at Rancho Santana School in Hollister left a parting gift on one of the school’s buildings. Serving as an empty canvas, a back wall adorned with the school’s colors: red, white and black.

Art teachers Clay Peer and Stephanie Skow help the class create a mural featuring the school’s mascot, a wildcat.

Both teach at two different schools throughout the week. Peer is a seventh and eighth grade teacher at Hollister Dual Language Academy and Rancho Santana. Skow teaches third through seventh graders at Sunnyslope Elementary and Rancho Santana.

Peer and Skow are San Benito County Arts Council teaching artists. According to the council’s website, teaching artists “teach and integrate their art form, perspective, and skills into a wide range of learning experiences.”

Peer said he was told Rancho Santana is the only school in the district without a mural

“So now we’re completing that,” he said.

Honoring the school’s first graduating class, Peer began creating draft sketches to show his classroom.

In order to gather the final design he took in the students’ initial reactions.

“I fully expected them not to like it, or partially like it,” Peer said.

A week before graduation day, June 8, the eighth grade class broke into groups to discuss the final draft.

“I came up with this design after taking in consideration what they liked and suggested,” Peer said.

The result was a giant roaring wildcat with pine trees in the background.

In the days that followed, students wielded paintbrushes full of color. The art council helped by contributing art supplies.

“They were happy with it,” Peer said. “It was something they could get behind and it represented their ideas and we went with it.”

All the students left their signatures on the mural in distinctive handwriting.

The mural stands out; it can be seen from the intersection of Fairview and Sunnyslope roads.

“We wanted something that was viewable from the street, that helped brand the school,” Peer said. “It was no-brainer, it had to be here.”

The mural was completed during the final days of the spring semester.

Peer said he was hoping to finish by June 10. 

“It depends how hot it gets and how long we can last out here,” he said.

Skow added jokingly “usually we’re lasting until 12.”

Last on the agenda is to finish detailing and fill in the highest parts of the mural.

“I feel very happy today,” Peer said.


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