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Correspondent

Motherhood is, by definition, a helping profession. There are supermoms, soccer moms, stay-at-home moms, working moms, community-activist moms, volunteer moms, the list goes on.

In Harvard and other area towns, mothers serve on town boards and committees and lend helping hands to just about every community activity and event. And nowhere is their helping influence more visible than in the schools.

Moms serve on school committees and school councils, volunteer in classrooms and at the library, pitch in for fund-raisers, and help chaperone school events and field trips.

Take Harvard Elementary School (HES), for example. When fourth-grade science classes take their annual canoe trip on the Nashua River, there are moms in the boats and on shore, observing, gathering soil samples. The kids, their teachers and parents assist the Nashua River Watershed Association in its mission to protect the recovering river and its wildlife.

On Field Day, another HES rite of spring, moms assist physical-education teacher Barbi Kelly with the setup and help run the games.

And just about every day, there are moms helping out in Cindy Harris’s art class.

Help extends to extra-class events, such as the recent HES art show, where artist Alicia Dwyer’s panoramic aquarium mural adorns the wall outside the cafeteria.

A group of mothers coordinated volunteers for the event and provided refreshments, said Harris.

Dwyer, too, is a helping mom with a strong school connection. She created the mural with the aid of her daughter, Ariel, and other fifth-graders, who painted figures close to the floor. Her son, Luke, is a fourth-grader at the school.

It took most of March to complete the mural, working on it just about every day, said Dwyer. The colorful creation features puffy yellow blowfish, slender sharks, anemones, starfish, scuttling red crabs, sea horses and green plants in a bright blue world. It was inspired by the view from the outdoor courtyard. Dwyer said looking in through expansive glass windows opposite the cafeteria wall reminded her of an aquarium.

During the event, Dwyer’s vision was even more vivid than she’d imagined, she said. Late-afternoon sun streamed through the windows. Moving shadows from a whimsical array of fish mobiles overhead dappled the scene, and 3D sea creatures dotted a net stretched across the windows.

All but the mural will enjoy a second life at Loaves & Fishes, said Bess Haire, another mom who helps. Haire is one of the founding mothers behind ForArt’sSake, a grass-roots cultural organization whose stated purpose matches its name: promoting art in the community and supporting art in the schools.

The other originators are Pam Cochrane and Melissa Yahia.

The group, through a Devens connection, was instrumental in setting up a recycling network between Devens businesses and HES, said Haire. The program brings usable discards to the art room where items, such as strips from Eglomise, can be put to good, artistic use, she said.

Events the group sponsors, including a recent community art exhibit at the old library and a documentary at The Bromfield School’s Cronin auditorium, aim to bring the community together through visual arts, said Haire.

The rest of the exhibit featured student art, spotlighting media and methods Harris’ students are learning at each grade level. Different types of media include scratch art, pointillism, perspectives and portraits.

Fourth-graders, for example, created an eye-catching collection of wolves with tempera paint. And there were plenty of moms on scene, ogling the artists’ work.

Come to think of it, that’s another category: supportive moms who help kids be creative.

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