The final bell had rung, sending most of the kids at La Vista Junior High home for the day.
But in a consumer science room, a dozen or so eighth-grade girls were staying late on an afternoon in early December to put together blankets for Project Linus, an organization that distributes fleece blankets for children in need. They are intended to provide a bit of security and comfort for children who are ill, displaced or homeless.
The girls, working under the direction of teacher-sponsors Gay Lepert and Jodi Vieyra, are part of the school's chapter of the National Junior Honor Society.
In addition to taking turns working after school, various club members also worked on the blankets during their flex time (study hall) during the day.
The school chapter has 105 eighth-graders who must have a 3.5 grade-point average and evidence of community or school involvement, Lepert said. They each have to complete three service projects a year.
“We're always doing something,” she said. “And we're always looking for projects.”
About 30 members worked on the Project Linus blankets, using fabric that had been donated. They achieved their goal of 45 blankets.
“I always wanted to do something like this, and this club gives me the opportunity,” said Peyton Savington, who was cutting the fringe to be tied to create two-sided blankets.
Also working at Peyton's table was Patricia Angle, who was tying the fringe pieces to hold the two sides of the blanket together. It was a job she liked better than cutting, she said.
Patricia said she had come in almost every day after school to work on the blankets. She found it easier to work after school than during flex time. “It's too easy to get distracted during flex time.”
Casey Hirschfeld, working at another table, was putting together the third blanket she had worked on in two days. “We're almost done, so we'll start on another one,” she offered cheerfully.
It happened that all the kids on that particular afternoon were girls, but Lepert said boys have been working on the blankets, too. They mostly had to do their part during flex time, she said, because of basketball practice and other activities after school.
Actually, helpers have come from outside the Honor Society, Lepert said. “Other kids ask to help. I've been here 13 years and it's true every year. More than society members work on the Christmas projects.”
That is projects plural, because in addition to the blanket-making, society members ran a toy drive for Toys for Tots. Some also participated in a blood drive.