Aurora artist makes snowflake for students of Sandy Hook tragedy
By Megan Maginity For Sun-Times Media January 10, 2013 3:42PM
Les Barker of Aurora sent this snowflake to Newtown as part of a project to decorate the new school that Sandy Hook students will attend. | Submitted
Updated: March 5, 2013 3:25PM
Les Barker of Aurora has a special talent. Besides his work as a senior web developer at Wheaton College, he makes snowflakes in his spare time. You know, the kind you made in grade school with a pair of safety scissors. But his are little more complicated.
One he recently made is extra special. He made it for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
He said he could not pass up the opportunity to help create this special piece of artwork to donate to Newtown, Conn. During the holidays, three people from the Aurora area contacted him with information from the Connecticut Parent Teacher Student Association project.
“The PTSA wanted to decorate the new school the kids are going to,” 54-year-old Barker said. “Their hope was to create a winter wonderland with homemade snowflakes from all over. When I saw that appeal, I was grateful for the folks who passed on the information for me to consider. I soon started thinking about things, like how I was going to construct it.”
According to LaTonya Taylor, director of media relations at Wheaton College, Barker has such unique creations that people truly remember his work as an artist.
With encouragement, Barker began his snowflake creation.
“There is not a whole lot I can do from this distance,” he said, “but if I can take some of my skills to create a special snowflake and create something meaningful for these folks, now that’s fantastic.”
Using tracing paper, he folded the snowflake so it would be six sided, the structure of a real ice crystal. He used all of the victims’ initials in alphabetical order, listing the children’s in lowercase and adults’ in uppercase.
“I didn’t want to just make a plain paper snowflake,” he said. “My snowflake honors all the people who were victims of this tragedy.”
Barker used the same method he learned in grade school, but also incorporated folding techniques he learned during the 18 years he lived in Japan.
He cut through 12 layers of tracing paper using an X-Acto knife creating an 18-inch snowflake on Christmas day. He framed and packaged it and sent it the day after Christmas.
While shipping it at Barker’s local UPS store, a worker told him that he was the second person that day to ship a snowflake out to Newtown, Conn.
“I wasn’t sure if there was just a lot of people sending them out or if it was a strange coincidence,” he said. “I think so many people have responded to the PTSA’s request.”
Eager to find out if Sandy Hook Elementary School received his snowflake, Barker looked toward the PTSA.
“As of now, they said they have rooms full of boxes of snowflakes,” Barker said. “They did receive mine, and if it is hung up in the school, I hope students can view it and find it meaningful.”
Upon closing the Sandy Hook snowflake project, the Connecticut PTSA website stated, “We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity from around not just the country but the world. At this time, we have enough beautiful snowflakes to blanket the community of Newtown.”
The snowflake creations have been used to decorate the halls of Sandy Hook School recreated at Chalk Hill Middle School about 6 miles away, as well as other community locations around Newtown, the website stated.
Students went back to school Jan. 3 for the first time since a shooting rampage just before Christmas that left 20 young students and six adults dead at the school.
Barker plans to continue making snowflakes. Most of his requests are for weddings and gifts.
“This has become a tradition for me every Christmas,” he said.
Barker’s wife, Annette, teaches ESL at the College of DuPage and two other local colleges. They have two children. The family has lived in the area for 12 years, 10 of them in Aurora.