Like most school activities this fall, choir and other vocal performances have needed some adjustments in order to be safe and effective during these interesting times.
Because more force of air is needed for singing, different masks are required in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 germs at least in order for USD 410 to be compliant with the regulations of the Marion County Health Department.
And even though, no one around had any experience with special masks for vocal performers, volunteer Cathy Fish decided she was willing to take the challenge head-on.
“She has made over 120 of these specially designed masks for the choirs. She has spent hours researching and talking with other seamstresses on the Facebook web page Masks for Performers. We are so grateful, and I’d just like to recognize her,” said Hillsboro Middle High School Vocal Music Teacher Lynn Just.
Fish, a retired Grandma, is very humble about the work she is doing. She started out making just normal face masks.
“I like to sew, had some fabric and saw a need posted on Facebook for masks for nursing homes. Jacqueline Cusick was a great inspiration! I joined a few Facebook groups that listed needs for masks and surgical caps. What started as helping local and area nursing homes blossomed to the United States! Indigenous reservations throughout the nation, hospitals and our school. Local businesses… families. I’ve had tons of fabric donated and bought lots from Kesslers and online! I told my husband that my stimulus check has gone for sewing supplies and postage! I haven’t charged anyone for masks! A special friend has paid in peanut m&ms and Dr Pepper for her masks,” said Fish.
She figures she has made more than 3,000.
Fish did admit that the choir ones are harder than the others and take more work.
“I’m still trying the get the perfect fit on the choir masks,” said Fish.
And she is even trying to one-up her game.
“I’ve done a couple of clear ones for Mrs Just. Those are really hard to get perfect! But it’s the very least I can do to help,” said Fish.”
And she is helping make it possible for these students to still enjoy participating in something they love.
“We are so appreciative of Cathy and her skill as a seamstress. These masks help the students be able to open their mouths and breath in deeply without the mask being sucked into their mouth,” said Just. “Her willingness to make the singers masks has allowed me to use my budget for music instead of a major portion going to purchasing singers masks elsewhere.”
The administration appreciates it as well.
Principal Clint Corby said, “We truly appreciate Cathleen Fish for making all of the choir masks. Giving our students the opportunity to sing is extremely important. It is people like Cathleen n that make Hillsboro such a special place.”