Leesville sculpture to honor late Vernon Parish educator Dr. Billie McRae

LEESVILLE, La. (KALB) - In an effort to bring out Leesville's artistic side, members of the community have banded together to create an art park.

Over the last four years a Leesville Junior High School art teacher started raising money to transform a park across from West Leesville Elementary into a sculpture garden.

Pieces placed throughout the garden hold special meaning to many Leesville residents

"Yellow is the color of happiness," said West Leesville fourth-grader Tobin Pullin.

Pullin and her classmates are psyched about the new, yellow addition.

"It's like peace to the whole world," said third-grader Tyrone Phillips.

However, the piece isn't new to Vernon Parish.

"It is pretty neat to have seen it at the school board office and now see it here in front of our school," said fourth-grader Samuel Welch.

Created in 1976, the sculpture was the brain child of Dr. Billie McRae, former Director of Vernon Parish Special Services and also a lover of the arts.

After McRae's passing two years ago, her family thought the sculpture would commemorate her best in the new art park.

"She was really active and supportive of the art community," said McRae's granddaughter Millie Ballagh.

It means the most to Ballagh who now gets to see it everyday while she teaches at West Leesville Elementary.

"Since she was an educator and my mother was an educator and now I am, it is pretty significant," Ballagh said.

Art park creator Isabelle Massart-Bursh said she wanted to immerse Vernon Parish students into the arts.

"They have the possibility be outside, play in the park and at the same time see art," Massart-Bursh. "For a small community like Vernon Parish or Leesville, we are really proud of this place, really proud."

As an art teacher herself, she is happy to see students enjoy the park.

"I see those kids and their reaction to the art piece and their input, and how they like it," Massart- Bursh said. "This is a dream come true. This is exactly what I wanted for this park."

And, Pullin said she is honored to have it at her school.

"I really like the color, it should be really appreciated," Pullin said.

The sculpture will be formally dedicated to Dr. McRae on December 5 at 4 p.m. In the event of rain the ceremony will be moved to the West Leesville Elementary cafeteria.