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story.lead_photo.caption Volunteer John Rootes at the National Churchill Museum led students from The Callaway Kids Bank in a project to hang a huge exhibition on Thursday. The Special Relationship Project involved 4,000-plus pieces of student art. "That's a lot," said Tyler Oberlag, manager of Guest Services and Museum Operations. Photo by Jenny Gray / Fulton Sun.

An artist himself, Sir Winston Churchill would be pleased how his own words have been interpreted by about 4,000 Callaway County students.

The Special Relationship Project is now being hung at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton.

"We've gotten more than 4,000 canvases," said Tyler Oberlag, manager of Guest Services and Museum Operations.

The project was announced at the Callaway Chamber of Commerce's now annual Teacher Appreciation Breakfast last summer by Tim Riley, museum director and chief curator. Because 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the National Churchill Museum, big special events are being planned, but this art project reached out to all school districts in Callaway County.

In his 1946 "Iron Curtain" speech given at Westminster College in 1946, Churchill coined the phrase "special relationship" and applied it to relations between the United Kingdom and United States.

"The artists were asked what they think 'special relationship' means to them," Oberlag said. "It's basically a Callaway County only project because the museum is in Callaway County. We wanted to keep it home."

All the schools got on board, and others too, if they so desired. Each artist was given a hard-board canvas about 6-by-6 inches and they could decorate it any way they desired. Some painted directly on it; some did papier-mché, others hammered in nails and strung string.

On Thursday, students and other representatives of The Callaway Kids Bank volunteered their time, scanning each piece of art and a write up by the artist explaining the work. This information will be collected on a special new website being created by museum officials.

"We're in the process of taking the pictures and hanging them on the walls," Oberlag added.

The Callaway Kids Bank is represented by eight students: A junior and senior from each of the county's four high schools.

"They represent North Callaway, New Bloomfield, South Callaway and Fulton," said Debbie LaRue, vice president, director of marketing and public relations at The Callaway Bank.

The 20-year-old program gets these students out and about to encourage savings among children, including participation in "Teach Kids to Save Day" offered by the American Bankers Association, and also in Junior Achievement's JA Biztown.

Megan Harrison, a junior from New Bloomfield High School, was on hand to help with the computers, while other students used a cardboard template to insert at least 4,000 nails in the walls for the exhibition.

"It's really cool seeing how all these little kids, and kids in general, view the project," Harrison said.

Some of the squares illustrated beloved pets or family members; others showed trees and nature, often warning of irreversible damage to the planet's ability to sustain life. Each square is utterly original, like the artists themselves.

John Rootes, a volunteer at the museum, was showing students how the nail templates work.

"I graduated from Westminster the year this (museum) was dedicated," he said. "My brother was 4 years old (when Churchill visited) and he still remembers the parade."

The Special Relationship exhibition will open March 5, Oberlag said, and special evenings will be set aside for each school to come visit.

"I'm sure it will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Rootes said.

To learn more about the exhibition, visit:

To learn more about the historic weekend planned for May 3-5, read the Jan. 19 story in the Fulton Sun: