MARLBORO — New Jersey will represent the United States in a unique way at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo thanks to a Monmouth County high school that sought to put its diverse students' talents on display beyond the school's walls.

National Art Honor Society students at Marlboro High School have just wrapped up their portion of a massive mural, the first half of which was completed by students in Tokyo and then shipped stateside, that's slated to be reshipped Monday back to Japan to be prepped for display at the summer games.

The high school is said to be the only one in the United States participating in this international art project that pairs up students from different countries to collaborate on one final product.

"We're so proud of it. I think it came out really well," said Sagdiana Rakhimova, a junior who is one of about 10 students who worked on the mural at Marlboro High School.

The significant time difference, 14 hours between the East Coast and Tokyo, forced students to get creative in the way they exchanged ideas. But they've had months to brainstorm and plan for the actual hands-on portion of painting the mural.

"We started this last year, collaborating with the students in Japan, and we've been getting videos via email, seeing what they've been working on," said Ava Trochiano, president of the school's National Art Honor Society.

Every detail in the painting has a meaning, students noted, fueled by a theme chosen by the involved schools — reduced inequalities, one of the United Nations' "sustainable development goals."

Marlboro High School students are contributing to a mural that will be on display at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)
Marlboro High School students apply the finishing touches to a mural that will be on display at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

The most prominent feature on Japan's side of the mural is Mt. Fuji, which is said to give blessings "equally to all," and the Statue of Liberty jumps out as the focal point of America's side of the project.

"It's been a wonderful experience for the students to know that they are representing the USA through art," said Barbara Casella, an art teacher at the high school.

Casella said the school applied to be part of the Japan Art Mile Foundation, looking to highlight the school's diverse population.

"We do have a lot of first-generation and second-generation Americans here," Casella said.

Casella said the school is not sure of the manner in which their art will be displayed at the Olympics, but it's a great honor no matter what.

"I went home to my parents and I was like, 'Guys, I'm going to be in the Olympics," added senior Hailey Ignarra. "I've always wanted to participate in the Olympics, to get that glory, but now I'm actually going to be participating in it. I mean, not physically, but..."

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