HASTINGS — Adams Central High School students are able to see face masks from schools across Nebraska thanks to a student council project.
In September, Denise Schuck, adviser of the Adams Central Student Council, started the project where she places face masks from high schools all across Nebraska on a wall in the school’s cafeteria. Once she gets the masks, she said, she makes a tag for the school with its name and town on it. From there, she uses a black string to connect the mask and the tag with a point on a large Nebraska map that shows where the school is located.
As of Thursday morning, Schuck said, she and the student council members have collected 161 face masks, with another 18 schools saying they planned to send her a mask.
In addition to high schools, there also are face masks from colleges such as the University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Chadron State College, Wayne State College, Hastings College and Central Community College.
“I have high schools and colleges because we are all in this as one,” Schuck said. “We are all in this together, and I said that I wanted to do this because I wanted the kids to see what other schools’ masks look like. I want it to be so it is not, ‘Oh, I have to put my mask on today,’ or whatever.”
She said she began the process of acquiring the face masks by going through the Nebraska School Activities Association’s contact list and emailing the schools to explain the project to them and to ask them to send her a mask with their logo and/or school name on it. For most of the masks, secretaries of the high school athletic directors “were a big help along the way.”
The highlight of the project, Schuck said, was when she received 22 masks in the mail on one particular day.
She said some of the masks on the wall, such as the ones from Columbus Lakeview and Loup County, are homemade. Others represent school extracurricular activities such as cheerleading, homecoming and volleyball.
Schuck said the first mask she received was from Centura Public Schools. One of her favorite masks is the one from Wood River Rural Schools, with the message “Wood River strong” on it alongside an eagle.
In order to acquire a mask from every Nebraska high school for the project, Schuck enlisted the help of the Adams Central Student Council members.
“I told the student council members that if they have friends or relatives that may be at another school that has a mask, I would give them points for every mask they brought in,” she said. “I had a few students take me up on that.”
Schuck said council members collect points for all of the activities and volunteer opportunities they participate in throughout the year.
Reuben Barry, an Adams Central senior and student council president, said he and his fellow council members would “go out and trade in” masks or find masks for the project.
He added many of his peers have siblings in college or relatives attending another Nebraska high school and were able to ask them for a mask for the project.
“They can look at the board and know that they found that mask specifically,” Barry said. “It is just cool to see each individual mask, knowing how many schools there are out there that are just going through the same challenges as you are. It is comforting to know that you are never alone in a certain situation.”
As part of the face masks project, Schuck said, the student council developed the “Cornhusker Creed” to describe the intent of the project and to “tie everything together.” The creed states that while students may have struggled with COVID-19, everyone is fighting it together — “one mask, one school at a time” — to defeat the virus and that “united as one, we will fight.”
“It is a nice thing to emphasize more of what the project is and what we as a state are going through during a pandemic,” Schuck said. “It is not something that is going to happen every year, so it is nice to just create it in the history books and to remember what it was.”
As schools have sent her a mask, Schuck said, she also has received numerous letters of support, thanking her and the student council for taking on the project.
“It has been amazing,” she said. “The notes that we have received have been unbelievable and have all been positive.”
Schuck said if a high school in Nebraska has a mask to donate to the project and has not already done so, they are encouraged to reach out to her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 402-463-3285.
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