After two years and a global pandemic, Middle Township High School’s highly anticipated walkable labyrinth is nearly finished and preparing for a big reveal on Friday, June 4.
Built as a place to feel at peace, the labyrinth will be more welcome than ever. A labyrinth is defined as a complicated irregular network of passages or paths in which it is difficult to find one's way. Unlike a maze, it does not seek to confuse you, but encourages you to focus on yourself, and be present in your thoughts as you walk quietly through its paths.
The public is invited to use the labyrinth, which is behind the high school next to the sports fields. MTHS art teacher Karen Biederman launched the project in 2018 with the goal of providing students and the community a calming place to reflect and decompress. The school received a $10,000 grant from the Artists in Education (AIE) Residency Program, a co-sponsored project of the NJ State Council on the Arts and Young Audiences Arts for Learning NJ & Eastern PA, to bring Biederman’s vision to life.
Little did she know how important a landmark like this would be in the years to come.
Work on the project began in the fall of 2019. While the facilities department prepared the space and began the layout, Biederman and her art students, along with artist-in-residence Marilyn Keating, began designing the ceramic pavers that will line the ornate path.
The original goal was to unveil the project with a big celebration on May 1, 2020, which coincides with World Labyrinth Day. However, everything was put on hold when schools shut down because of COVID.
“I started this project because I wanted to create a place of reflection,” said Biederman. “A group of my students had suffered a devastating loss of a classmate and I saw my students struggling with this. I felt constructing the labyrinth would bring us together and help us heal and reflect.”
Progress resumed on the labyrinth when the students returned to school in fall 2021. AIE even extended its grant so that Biederman and her students could finish the labyrinth. Excitement is building now that the project is almost ready.
“Post-COVID, this project is even more relevant,” Biederman added. “The goal hasn't changed, but the meaning is greater.”
“Resiliency is a school district and community-wide goal,” said Principal George West. “Increasing our students' ability to cope and thrive are extremely important. This labyrinth will be another way for students to reduce anxiety and stress, meditate, problem-solve, set and obtain goals, heal the mind and spirit, and search for balance in their lives.”