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Peabody students build Lego tribute to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick

A unique Peabody elementary school mural pays tribute to two architects of the New England Patriots dynasty: legendary quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick.

More than 400 Brown Elementary School students and faculty came together to make a 4-foot-tall Lego mural that shows Brady on one side and Belichick on the other.

The mural was designed by North Andover native Rob Surette, the artist behind Amazing Hero Art. Surette travels to schools throughout Massachusetts delivering motivational messages and painting in front of students through an artist in residence program and speed painting, Brown Elementary principal Lauren King said.

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Surette said he is the only East Coast Disney painter and works full-time for Disney.

King had worked with Surette previously when he did an artist in residence at her former school in Andover. The students in Andover worked with Surette to make a Red Sox slugger David Ortiz piece in honor of Ortiz’s retirement.

King had asked Surette to help the school make something that followed their school motto, “Aim high . . . together we will fly!” Surette told King his idea for the mural in an e-mail in September during a Patriots game. He said he’d been thinking about it for five years.

Surette then traveled to West Hartford, Conn., to buy angled pieces that would allow for this optical illusion, he told the Globe in a telephone interview.

All students, faculty, front desk personnel, custodians, and administrators moved in an assembly line. Surette asked students their name, grade, aspirations, and what they needed to do to get there while they placed down three pieces at a time.

“Each class spent 35 to 40 minutes with the artist talking about hopes and dreams and how to persevere,” King said.

Students were guessing during the process what the mural would become. Many guessed a bulldog, their school mascot, and King herself.

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“The students knew it would be an image that depicted their school motto,” King said.

Surette said faculty had warned him that a large number of students were disabled in some way so he tried to encourage peer teamwork.

“A lot of kids didn’t have the motor skills to place the Lego, so we had students helping other students,” Surette said. “I don’t want to help them as much as I want kids to help other students.”

After three days of hard work, Surette took the piece home to finish it and premiered it at the all-school assembly Friday.

“Every grade level presented about a team that achieved greatness,” King said.

King said the first-graders talked about the Red Sox World Series championship in October, and the fifth-graders talked about the Patriots and how their mottos of “everything we got” and “do your job” corresponded well to their own school motto.

Surette then premiered the finished piece, which King called a “magical moment.”

“It was purely amazing to be in that gymnasium. The children were beyond excited. The staff was amazed. The energy in that moment when Rob Surette turned the artwork. It was just a powerful response. It was just incredible,” King said.

King said the school has never come together to make something this large.

“The two images of Brady and Belichick are two amazing individuals who work hard and work together and create a thing that has a sense of pride, accomplishment, and greatness,” King said. “That is what we want to instill in our students.”

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Surette posted a video of the mural on his Facebook page Saturday, saying it took 22,500 Lego bricks and more than 100 hours. He said in the post it was very clear Brown was a school focused on acceptance and inclusion.

“We are all different, we all have different needs, and we are all working on different goals,” Surette said in the post. “These students are not only learning a true message about tolerance and acceptance, but they are also learning how to help and support one another.”

He also commented back when Brown’s Facebook page said thank you, calling the assembly that premiered the finished mural one of the greatest days of his career.

“We all scored a huge touchdown together,” Surette said. “Legos, teamwork, positive spirit, and all!”

King said they plan to hang the mural in the front lobby, “so that everyone could see it and the students could walk past it it daily and be reminded that they can go places.”


Sabrina Schnur can be reached at sabrina.schnur@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sabrina_schnur.