COZAD — An Omaha educator took offense at Friday’s theme “Merica” for FFA Week dress-up days. Cozad parents in response showed up with the Stars and Stripes outside of Cozad High School Monday morning.
Cozad FFA's celebration of National FFA Week included themed dress-up days at the high school such as Boots and Sweats, a camouflage day and FFA blue and gold.
The theme for Friday was “Merica.” FFA students were to wear their Folds of Honor shirts and dress in red, white and blue.
As a part of the theme, the Cozad FFA chapter held a 24-hour donation campaign for the Folds of Honor Foundation and challenged area communities, school staff, parents and students to donate.
“Folds of Honor is a charitable organization founded in 2007 to raise money to help fund the education of children and spouses of veterans who either lost their lives or became permanently disabled in the line of duty,” Superintendent Ron Wymore wrote.
Wymore continued, “Folds of Honor as a charity receives consistently outstanding ratings, with a 98.23 aggregate score from Charity Navigator and over 90% of donations going directly to scholarships. It has awarded nearly 30,000 scholarships to children and spouses of veterans on the basis of unmet educational needs.”
On Feb. 24, teacher-librarian Edward Ventura Jr. at Omaha's Chandler View Elementary tweeted: “Cozad Schools is hosting spirit week with Friday as Merica day – a slang term that is often used in a negative way to describe life in the U.S."
Wymore said in his letter that the district was “surprised and disappointed” by Ventura’s communication “asserting that the school district has somehow acted improperly in allowing our FFA chapter to celebrate National FFA Week.”
“In particular, Mr. Ventura was offended by the FFA students’ decision to support the scholarship fund Folds of Honor by wearing (Folds of Honor) shirts and dressing in red, white and blue colors,” Wymore said.
Wymore wrote that Ventura, to the district’s knowledge, is not familiar with the Cozad school district in any way and has never visited or reached out to discuss his concerns “prior to making his own determination about our intentions and sharing it widely, and this is why respect and discourse, and not assumptions, are so critical at this time in our country.”
“The Cozad School District is proud of our student body, and in particular is proud of the FFA’s decision to support the children of fallen veterans. Wearing red, white and blue is an entirely appropriate way to honor fallen veterans and to raise funds to support scholarships for their families,” Wymore wrote.
Ventura did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
In response to the situation, several Cozad residents parked their vehicles outside of the high school on Monday morning, with many of them sporting the Stars and Stripes and other vehicles carrying signs stating “Cozad Cares.”
Cozad FFA raised about $2,000 for Folds of Honor.
AMERICAN FLAGS IN NEBRASKA FROM 1969 to 2000