Cozad Schools raise $5,000 for non-profit despite FFA week “Merica” theme controversy

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 10:41 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 8:02 AM CST
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - A tweet has caused quite the controversy in Dawson County. It comes after a Omaha teacher took offense to Cozad High School’s Future Farmer’s of America dress day theme, “Merica” during FFA week last month.

On February 22, the student organization announced the celebration of National FFA week on social media stating there would be themed dress up days at the high school. Themes for that week also included Boots and Sweats, a camouflage day and FFA blue and gold. Students were asked to wear their Folds of Honor shirts and dress in red, white and blue on February 26.

In addition, 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.

“It raises money for scholarships for parents or students of people of the military who have lost their family member in the line of duty,” said FFA teacher McKenzie Crowe.

But their efforts were overshadowed after Chandler View Elementary, teacher-librarian Edward Ventura, Jr., posted a tweet on February 24, tagging several news organizations, as well as the Nebraska School Activities Association, Nebraska State Education Association, Nebraska Appleseed and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska. claiming the word “Merica” is “a slang term that is often used in a negative stereotypical way to describe life in the U.S.”

“If you look at the flyer, even though it says “Merica,” it talked about the day being about Folds of Honor, raising money and honoring our vets,” said Cozad Community Schools Superintendent Ron Wymore. “So how do you go from a word and not looking at what the day was going to be about and ruining the day, I don’t understand it.”

Still, the controversy didn’t dampen the spirits of students from raising $5,000 for the non-profit organization.

“It has just grown me as a leader and made me a leader not only in my school, but also in my community,” said FFA student Gracie Schneider.

In response to the situation, several Cozad parents showed up with Stars and Stripes outside of the high school the following Monday.

“If you are offended by something, let the person or people in charge know, don’t go viral, send emails, tweets, and making that statement without finding out what’s really going on, what does this really mean?” said Wymore. “When you take your first step and it’s viral, it’s a lose-lose situation for everybody.”

On Tuesday, March 2, Governor Pete Ricketts took to Facebook to praise the district for caring for veterans.

“In Nebraska, we love our country’s flag, our FFA programs, our schools, and America,” Ricketts said. “Thank you to the students and administration at Cozad Public Schools for caring for our veterans and their families.”

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