When students returned to Cannon Elementary School late last week, they were in for a big surprise.
During breakfast Thursday morning in the cafeteria, the children were greeted by apple and corn-on-the-cob characters carrying books, a banana on a skateboard, a smiling peach and a bunch of grapes, and everyone’s favorite — a flying carrot.
The colorful mural of cartoon-like fruits and vegetables is the creation of Kevin Kagels of Westville. He hand-sketched and painted the cheerful scene at the urging of his wife, Debi Kagels, who is Cannon school’s cafeteria monitor.
“He envisioned what the fruit was doing,” she said.
Kevin started sketching the characters freehand in the evenings on an old, painted-over, 20-foot-long blackboard that hangs in the cafeteria. Principal Kim Pabst said she covered the area with paper so the children wouldn’t see the work in progress and ruin the surprise.
“He came in and drew the fruits and vegetables by hand, and we had to cover it so the kids wouldn’t see it,” Pabst said. “It was revealed the first day they came back at breakfast.”
It was slow-going at first until Pabst invited Kagels to work on the mural during Christmas break. After about 20 hours of work, the mural — which includes the message Healthy Meals Are A“Peeling” — was complete.
“It was Deb’s idea,” he said of his wife. “She asked me if I would be willing to paint on the wall in the cafeteria.
“I didn’t do this for any acknowledgment. I did it for the kids,” he said. “I did it so the kids would have something to look at and enjoy.”
Before Kagels’ mural brightened up the cafeteria, Debi said “the whole room was beige.”
As for his artistic abilities, Kevin gave credit to his father, Dick Kagels, and to God.