Student Artists Design Holiday Bus 

CPS partners with CTA to create holiday magic

December 10, 2014

Students from one CPS school have transformed a city bus into a winter wonderland.

Building on the success of its holiday train, the CTA has dispatched a festive bus to cruise the streets of Chicago over the next few weeks. The artwork for the bus includes snowflakes, candy canes, and gingerbread houses, all of which were sketched or painted by students from Mahalia Jackson Elementary School.

“We’re excited for the chance to showcase our school and art program throughout the city,” said Jackson art teacher Wyatt Feley. Thousands of people, not only from Chicago, but from around the world, will ride on this bus in the next few weeks, and we were honored to be a part of creating it.”

The process started this fall, when a CTA representative visited Jackson for a homecoming celebration and noticed the 6 x 6 ft. murals that line the school halls. She was impressed enough by the artwork to suggest that Jackson students add their creative touch to the CTA’s holiday bus.

“Getting that news was like winning the lottery,” said Mr. Feley. “We were so excited, but also aware of how much work we’d have to do.”

He immediately recruited 45 students in grades K-8 – young artists who had shown promise in both artistic and leadership skills. The group, which included representatives from Jackson’s diverse learner and Deaf and Hard of Hearing populations, met after school for three weeks to create a wide range of holiday finery that would line the inside of the bus.

“We used crayons, markers, oil paints, and collage art to create a diversified look,” said Mr. Feley. “CTA provided the materials, so all we had to do was work our magic.”

When the holiday bus pulled up outside Jackson this week, it was clear that the hard work had been worth it. As they boarded this reindeer on wheels, the students were thrilled to see their colorful artwork on display. They were also thrilled to see Santa, many stopping to have their picture taken at his special seat on the bus.

“They’re so excited to show off their work to the city,” said Mr. Feley. “They can’t wait to bring their families aboard when the bus passes through the neighborhood.”

This project would not have been possible three years ago. At that point, students at Mahalia Jackson did not even have art class. That was one of the first things Principal Robert Hubbird changed when he took over leadership of the school.

“We’ve received some grants and created new partnerships, including one with Columbia College,” said Principal Hubbird. “We’re thrilled with the results, especially seeing how eager the students have been to express themselves through art.”

To see where the Holiday Bus will be this month, visit

Page Last Modified on Friday, February 20, 2015