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thedrifter
01-24-06, 07:57 AM
From The Northwest Herald
Artistic salute

Huntley High School senior Kurtis Radtke did not really get to know Connor Larkin before Larkin graduated last year and enlisted in the Marines.

But that has not stopped the 17-year-old painter from using his artistic abilities to honor Larkin and other former classmates now serving in the military.

"I never really thought about it until I was asked to do this," Radtke said Monday, standing over a 9-foot-wide American eagle painting resting on the floor of an art room.

"But it's neat. When people see this, they'll actually realize there are people out there fighting."

For about two weeks, Radtke has spent his mornings and some lunches detailing the intricate piece, which soon will hang near the Huntley High School auditorium along with photographs of graduates on active duty.

The mural-like project is one of the aspiring artist's largest and came to him through Connor Larkin's parents, Donna and David Larkin of Huntley.

The Larkins said they became increasingly aware of graduates joining the military in recent years, particularly when their son and some of his friends signed up. Now they hope that students have the same realization when they see Radtke's work.

"For a lot of these kids, that connection just isn't there," Donna Larkin said. "To actually see the faces of the kids who are serving ... makes it more real, more human."

The high school's woodworking and athletic departments lent a hand in designing the piece, which is made partly of particle board.

Once complete, the painting will hang above a sign reading "Huntley High School Graduates Defending Our Freedom" and 8-by-10-inch photos of uniformed graduates.

Word of the project already spread to Larkin's son, who was overjoyed by the support.

"He thinks it's awesome," Larkin said.

By JOSH STOCKINGER
jstockinger@nwherald.com

Ellie