Students at Montrose Elementary School recycled their bottle caps in an artistic and unique way and finally their work is on display.

Students at Montrose Elementary School recycled their bottle caps in an artistic and unique way and finally their work is on display.

After months of preparation, the Montrose mural made of colorful bottle caps has been mounted in the school's library.

The mural is a permanent art installation and part of a yearlong arts project called "Roots and Wings." The project was created during the residency of green artist Michelle Stitzlein.

Stitzlein, a central Ohio artist, designed the mural based on sketches created by Montrose students in grades K-6.

Through the yearlong project, students are exploring a variety of contexts such as visual arts, music, theater and dance according to Amy Thompson, Bexley Schools' public information coordinator. The project is funded by a Bexley Education Foundation grant.

The students started collecting bottle caps in January. In April, Molly McCarrick's class sorted a large box filled with caps and, while they were at it, worked on math skills of estimating and addition.

Student Matthew Arace knows the colors of the majority of the caps.

"Most are brown, definitely," he said.

A first-grader said the 133 pink caps were "from strawberry milk."

McCarrick said that sorting was a good activity for her class, especially at the end of the day.

Art specialist Becky Liefeld said excitement had been building for Stitzlein's residency. Liefeld spearheaded the bottle caps mural project.

The mural's imagery is of flowers and butterflies. Liefeld said.

"These roots and wings are the beginnings of our personal stories and the promise of our future - where our story will take us."

Along with the imagery, being green was a major focus of this project.

"Montrose students will experience in a very concrete way that even the littlest things mean a lot when it comes to recycling or finding new uses for things," Liefeld said.

The mural is part of the big question the students have been asking all year: "What's my story?"

Answering this question has taken many different forms. In December, the students attended "The Match Girl" at Otterbein University, produced by Columbus Dance Theatre, and watched several classmates in the performance.

Also sixth-grade orchestra students wove their own personal stories into a performance at Wexner Heritage Village. The students provided the setting for their stories about traveling with their families.

The mural project now displayed in the library extends the "What's Your Story?" exploration into the realm of science and conservation since the mural was made out of only recycled materials.

The project was created not only by the students but also by former Montrose students, staff members, including former principal, Terry Black, and parent volunteers.