After teacher Jared Severson posted a photo online of the face masks his Warrior Academy students had made, Colfax County Deputy Emergency Manager Michelle Evert reached out and asked them to make extra masks for people in need.
This year, fewer kids attended Schuyler Community Schools' summer programs including Warrior Academy, so the students spent more time with Severson and were able to make 46 masks.
“Forty was my goal,” Severson said. “Last year was 340 students; this year I’m not for sure if we broke 80 or 90. It really condensed down a lot.”
This year, he said there were only three middle school teachers, so each teacher took the kids for an hour. They rotated the students that way for three weeks.
It took the kids about a week to make their first masks for themselves, he said, and to really get it down.
“Technically, I am a business teacher that got shifted into the Family Consumer Science two years ago because there was a shortage of teachers,” Severson said. “They know I used to run (a) restaurant and everything else with my management so they asked if I could take over, do the culinary.”
He didn’t teach sewing the first year but picked it up last year.
“I’m not a perfectionist..." he said. “It’s all new to me, trying to teach them how to sew or anything else.”
Some of his students; however, already had these skills.
Alex Rodriguez, 13, said he learned last year in Family and Consumer Science.
“We sewed pillows,” Rodriguez said. “We did get help.”
They chose the colors for the pillows, he said, and this year, they got to design their own masks.
“We get to choose the front of it and the back, the colors,” he said. “I liked designing a reindeer one."
Areli Arellano, who is currently 12, said when she was 6 she started helping her mom sew. A mask she made this year she liked was purple and blue.
At Warrior Academy, her favorite memory is the first time she met all of her friends.
Rodriquez said he likes Warrior Academy because he gets to meet people. He said it takes him around an entire day to make a mask.
“It takes me 15 minutes,” Arellano said.
“Did you say 15 minutes?” he asked.
They both said they liked making masks for people in need.
“Well we got poked a lot by those needles,” Rodriguez said.
Evert stopped by to pick up the masks and take some photos. The masks will be taken to CHI Schuyler where they will be placed individually into plastic bags with care instructions in English and Spanish.
From there, they will be taken to six locations in Schuyler: Schuyler Pharmacy, Didier’s Grocery, CHI Health Schuyler, Casey’s, Love’s Travel Stop and Parkview One Stop. People can pick them up there, free of charge.
They also have some in Clarkson at the Cenex C-Store.
As of July 23, Evert said all of the locations are out but are expected to be resupplied.
Evert said she is extremely proud of the kids.
“Mr. Severson is teaching them how to volunteer, that you don’t need to be paid for everything,” she added.
Masks and handwashing are extremely important, she said, along with social distancing.
“When you wear a mask you’re protecting yourself but you’re also protecting the other person,” she said.
Evert noted that they have received donations for the project as well.
“The Department of Utilities here in Schuyler gave me a large check for donations to buy material, because I have people who can sew, I just needed the material,” Evert said.
She dropped the material off at the school when she saw Severson’s picture.
“We’ve handed out probably five to 700 in a four-month time frame,” she said. “We’ve gotten some from the state."
Evert said the organization Nebraska Impact sent her 200 masks and that since they were in a hot spot they basically just asked how many they wanted.
“We’ve handed out probably five to 700 in a four month time frame,” she said. “We’ve gotten some from the state."
Carolyn Komatsoulis is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at email@example.com
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!