STURGIS, SD – The Sturgis American Legion and the Sturgis Brown High School Art Club have joined forces for a unique fundraiser. The idea came about between two art teachers (one a veteran, the other a self-described ‘army brat’) and the manager of the Sturgis Vets Club, Stacey Nickelson.
“Art teacher Anna Tescher who is a military veteran, was looking for a way to raise money for kids in the art club to go on a trip. Someone mentioned painting ceiling tiles and it went from there.” She continued, “You’ll see painted ceiling tiles in a lot of veterans clubs around the region. What these students have done is amazing. Everybody who has seen these are just blown away by what they are creating.”
Set for Thursday, April 8, the American Legion Spaghetti Feed starts at 5pm and the auction of hand painted ceiling tiles gets underway at 7pm. Tiles created by Sturgis Art Club members feature the five branches of the military, vintage was poster images, and buyer’s choice where the buyer can select the image they want. “When these are purchased, they will be personalized with ‘donated by’ or ‘in memory of’ and then installed at the Sturgis Vets Club,” observes Nickelson.
Sturgis Brown High School Art Teacher, DeVee Dietz grew up in a military family. She has been an educator for over 30 years, primarily in visual arts. Anna Tescher is a 21 year military veteran and has been an educator for 13 years.
“Our classrooms both have painted ceiling tiles which everyone seems to love,” shares Tescher. “Me being a veteran myself and DeVee being an Army brat growing up, we both have military ties. Sturgis is such a military-oriented community with Fort Meade being here.” She continued, “A lot of the kids have brothers, sisters, parents, aunts and uncles who are militarily involved. We both thought it would be cool to get the kids involved in the history of the area with the military service and tie it with the Sturgis Vets Club that does a lot to help local veterans and the community.”
Each two by four foot ceiling tile takes about six hours to create. More than one art student may be working on a single tile. Three have been completed and are on display at the Sturgis Vets Club. Bidding starts at $20 per tile. Adam Karrels, who is donating his expertise and time to the fundraiser, will begin the auction at 7pm. According to Nickelson, Karrels has a close connection to the military as well.
“Adam’s brother Sean is in the U.S. Army and has done many tours in Iraq and Afghanistan,” shares Nickelson. “And his sister Leah served as a nurse in the Army. I think it’s something important to him as well.”
It’s not just the creation of art that benefits the students in the Sturgis Brown High School Art Club, says Tescher.
“We don’t just teach art. It encompasses all the subject matters; history, reading, math, science studied and created from and through the perspective of art,” she says. “And for some students, this is a safe place. When they struggle with other classes and subject matters, this offers them a different way of seeing things and to learn critical thinking skills.”
The fundraiser benefits both the Art Club that is raising funds for a cultural trip to Ireland and the American Legion for its many contributions to veterans, the community and young people, throughout the year. Nickelson, and art teachers Tescher and Dietz encourage people to attend.
“It’s something we hope to make a yearly event,” says Nickelson.
“The kids were super excited about this when we approached them,” shares Tescher. “I hope people come down and support veterans and the art club. It should be a good time. People can come down for spaghetti and stay for the auction.”
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