Festivities for FAC

Floral design makes mini-mums for FAC, FLC students


Sophomores Gracie Whitmore and Natalie Welsh double check their techniques.

Nayma Villalpondo, reporter

The bell rings and students begin filing in, one after the other. The noise of scraping metal and quiet chatter fill the room before the pledges and announcements are made. Once they’re over, senior Sierra Gereszek jumps out of her seat and rushes over to the bins at the front of the class that are cascading with colorful ribbon. Grabbing all the materials needed, she heads back the tables and begin the arduous task that is making mini-mums. But Gereszek isn’t making a mum for herself or for a grade—she’s making mini-mums for an FAC student.

“This project was the brainchild of one of my Practicum Floral Design students,” Floral design teacher Mandy Fehlis said. “I’ve always told my kids that if they don’t want to keep the mum they make in class to go ahead and donate it to an FAC kid. It makes them feel really awesome.”

Gereszek came up to Fehlis with the idea of making the mini-mums for each and every FAC and FLC student, and after discussing the plan entirely and bringing it up to the FAC and FLC teachers, the project was set and ready to go.

“At the beginning, we didn’t have very many people,” Gereszeck said. “The first couple of classes were horrible. Once people started joining in though, it took us no time to get them done.”

Gereszeck and her friend could only produce six or seven mums in about three hours. To reduce time and offset costs, the two students brainstormed with Fehlis to get others on board with the idea.

“I’ve always told my [students] that if they don’t want to keep the mum they make in class to go ahead and donate it to an FAC kid. It makes them feel really awesome.””

— Floral Design Teacher Mandy Fehlis

“We put our heads together, brainstormed a little bit and decided that we would ask faculty and staff to sponsor an FCA kid,” Fehlis said. “After the two students from our Practicum class went to the FCA teachers and proposed the idea and let them know what they were thinking and got the okay from them, I sat down and emailed the entire faculty and staff. Within 24 hours we had enough sponsorship for every FCA and FLC student to have a spirit mum.”

Just like that, in spirit of Homecoming Week, the Practicum of Floral Design class started making specially designed mums for the FLC and FAC students. However, before the program could begin the long process, Gereszeck and Fehlis had some planning to figure out, including costs, materials and measurements.

The planning took a couple of days to get the entire project ready.

“It’s one of those things where you have to put enough planning to where you reach out to everyone and give them all the information that they need at one time and they know what the goal is and what the direction is for us,” Fehlis said. “I think that was one of the reasons why the response was so great, not to mention that we have some amazing faculty and staff at Stony Point.”

Although planning the activity wasn’t as much fun, the process of actually creating the mums brought joy to all the floral design students. The students took about 3 to 4 class periods to finish the mums.

“[The students] worked very diligently and we did a lot of collaborative efforts amongst ourselves,” Fehlis said. “There were 42 FAC kids and 4 of the FLC kids, which are our medically fragile kids. We made a total of 46 mums.”

The floral design classes were even able to juggle multiple other projects that were in progress during their mum-making project. Not only were the Practicum students making their own mums at the time, they were also creating mums available to order for the program’s fundraiser.

“I think my favorite part was rushing to get them all done,” said Gereszeck. “I wanted them to be able to walk around feeling proud that they have their own mum and that they could show it off at the game and have fun and enjoy themselves.”

After finishing this project, the Practicum classes looked back at their hard work and considered more projects in future years. According to Fehlis, future projects could open up opportunities for the rest of the school to be involved and work with the floral design program.

“This is the first year we’ve ever done a project like this,” said Fehlis. “The great thing about projects like this is that we can look over our work organically and see how they change from the first initial concept to ‘what are we going to do next year?’ or five years from now.”

Fehlis knows that, no matter what, the projects are meant to spark the tiger spirit within all students, despite differences in appearance or learning environment. According to Fehlis, the effort and time that it takes to make someone else’s day a bit better makes it all worth it.

“The whole point of [different projects and fundraisers that we do] is that we can include all of our kids to make them feel like they’re a part of the family,” Fehlis said. “It’s one of the best things in the world. You’re talking about kids staying in their rooms and they have a schedule and they stick to that and to be able to give them something to just brighten their day, that’s the point of these things.”

According to Gereszeck, the project carried out her original goal with perfection. Because of the homecoming mum project, the FAC and FLC students were able to join in on the school spirit during Homecoming Week, bringing a feeling of inclusivity and unity among all of the different communities on campus.

“I wanted them to be able to walk around feeling proud that they have their own mum and that they could show it off at the game and have fun and enjoy themselves,” Gereszeck said. “I just wanted the kids to feel like everyone else.”