LoriAnne Adams of Wapato, Washington, is an Indian Education Counselor at Simcoe Elementary School on the Yakama Nation Reservation which has 100 percent free and reduced lunch student body population.
LoriAnne’s idea was “Keys of Love for our Native Veterans”, and she used her $1,000 Dreamstarter Teacher grant to purchase supplies such as bone and crimp beads, shells, beading wire and key rings that the whole school to make 500 beaded keychains and cards to give to their local Yakama Nation veterans.
“The purpose of the project was for Simcoe Elementary students learn about Native American beading by making keychains of love for Native American veterans,” she reported.
The keychains were made by kindergarteners, first graders, second graders and staff. The keychains were then presented to the Yakama Nation Warriors in person during the fall and springtime. The keychains were also sent to a Veterans Administration hospital in Montana.
“The students were able to learn about Native American beadwork and the use of materials from buffalo, elk and shells,” said LoriAnne. “They were also able to show love and appreciation for our Native American veterans and other veterans by the keychains that they made.
“The students really enjoyed this project but mostly the meaning behind the project,” she commented. “We had second-grade students volunteer their time during their recess to make more keychains.
“The students would rather give back to those who fought and sacrificed for them than play outside and showed true compassion for our Native American veterans.”
Although one might assume that young kindergarten students would have a hard time with beading and the understanding the purpose of giving back to those who have served and sacrificed, “but they did an awesome job,” LoriAnne said.
“Once the reasoning behind the project was explained to the students, they were able to put their love within every keychain.”
And it showed.
“They would have pride on their faces when they would share out with their class that they bead at home with their family.
“The Simcoe students also shared pride with the class by sharing memories or stories of their own loved one either currently in the service or have served.
“Also, our project success was measured by the gratitude and appreciation shown by the veterans of the Yakama Nation Warriors Association when the students presented their classroom keychains to them.
“The smiles said it all. The Yakama Nation warriors distributed the keychains locally to veterans they encountered and also gave them away during their Thanksgiving drive.”
LoriAnne told of one second-grade boy who especially loved making the keychains.
“He would come in every day for a week during his recess and make the keychains. He became a leader during this time. He was able to help his classmates when he finished or if they got stuck.
“This project really touched his heart. He truly was the true meaning of “A Keychain of Love for our Native American Veterans.”