By Charly SHELTON
“One day in the year 2013, there was a bear who lived deep within the mountains, or so he thought…”
Thus begins the tale. A tale of adventure, of mystery, of finding new places and new friends, of discovering new and tantalizing foods stored in a strange metal box.
This is the story of Meatball the bear.
“[This all came about because the] library had blank walls and the students on student council wanted something to cover the walls and tell a story about the school,” said Stephen Williams, principal of Lincoln Elementary School. “And the students brainstormed and came up with the idea of [a mural]. Instead of having storybook characters, [we’d] have a story of Lincoln. And one of the biggest stories that came to mind was Meatball the bear.”
The student council decided that their story would become a mural and that a student of Lincoln should be the one to write this story. They held a writing contest for all the students at the school to give their best interpretation of the Meatball story. The winning story is featured in its entirety at the right side of the mural. The resulting mural featuring the story of Meatball was unveiled on Oct. 23 in the library during a special ceremony. The mural was designed by the design class students at Daily High School, painted by muralist Roger Dolin and based upon a story by Lincoln student Matthew Apostol.
“I actually wasn’t expecting to win at all,” said Apostol. “Our teacher just told us to write a story and we all had to compete in our class. For me, I just doodled over it because I wasn’t expecting to win. But I did, and now it’s up there.”
Apostol was in sixth grade last year when he entered the writing contest and has since graduated and moved on to Rosemont Middle School. He feels that this mural will be an enduring reminder of his time at the school.
“At the end of the school year, I was really worried about forgetting Lincoln, but with this, I’ll never forget Lincoln.”
The mural depicts Meatball and many of his wildlife friends coming into a neighborhood to have a pool party while an anxious human peers out to see the party on his patio. This human is Joey Ball, the homeowner who first spotted Meatball in his garage. His daughter, Ella, is in second grade at Lincoln and is the connection between the bear and the school.
“It is so special to have this mural at Lincoln, not only because my daughter Ella is in the second grade here, but my son Bronson will be attending next year. I am a Lincoln alum myself,” said Ball. “Since Meatball became part of our family back in 2011, he has become quite the celebrity. The artists did a great job catching the look that was probably on my face when I opened the door to our garage at 3 a.m. that morning to see a bear, soon to be named Meatball, staring at me, eating meatballs from our fridge.”