This article appeared in the January 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
The entire mural includes drawings from 60 Winterville Elementary School Students.
“What we do for our kids is going to change the world,” said Winterville Mayor Dodd Ferrelle during the Dec. 2, 2016 unveiling of the city’s new mural. What was once an old auto repair shop is now the site of the new city mural located in the city square—the unique part: the drawings on the mural were inspired by original sketches from 60 third, fourth and fifth grade students from Winterville Elementary School.
Students’ drawings illustrated quite the imagination, “One of the kids thought that you find a corn stalk with a pineapple growing out of it,” Ferrelle joked.
Cameron Ferrelle, wife of Mayor Ferrelle, brainstormed the idea of the mural after the elementary school—with the recommendation of their newly formed arts council—decided to position the school as an arts magnet. Cameron, a professional artist, worked to gather the students’ drawings, select which ones best fit and created the outline of the mural.
Before the reveal ceremony, the grade-school artists took the 12-minute walk from their school to the mural with a full police escort. Once at the community garden, students awed as they held up their original drawings to the painted renditions on the mural.
According to Ferrelle, the city started with a $500 budget to paint the mural—far less than needed. But, the community stepped in and contributed to the project with donations of time, talent and resources. The area Lowe’s and Walmart donated all of the paint and some brushes.
“It was powerful getting all of those people together,” Ferrelle said. “Residents came out just to put a little dot on the mural. Since we’ve had it up, its brightened people’s day.”
More than a Mural
State and local leaders believe this mural is more than an enhancement to a small city, but a model of the positive impact community-based schools can have across the country.
“This is a perfect example of building a community around the school,” said Rep. Spencer Frye. “We’ve seen it happen in Athens—people making a commitment to send their kids to the same school and you have that bond and security. It really makes a difference and encourages a lot more parental involvement.”
“This project really reflects and represents what we should be doing across America,” said Clarke County School Superintendent Dr. Philip Lanoue. “It represents what our community is doing and highlights the conversation of how the community impacts children.”
Ferrelle looks forward to future city projects as he fulfills his first year as mayor including the renovation of the city’s theater. But, the mural completion and reveal will always remain dear to him.
“Today is the day I am most proud of because the country, our state, our city and county are depending on days like this,”he said.