AURORA | Tari Wood’s family couldn’t be much more invested in Grandview High School and the proof appeared all over the place July 27 at its graduation ceremony.
Wood and her husband, Brian, both teach science and coach soccer at the school and their five children — Cayla, plus twins April and Mia and Cobi and Lyssa — each went through traditional Grandview graduations in years past.
The Class of 2020’s graduation looked entirely different in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic as every graduate in attendance at Stutler Bowl were required to wear a mask. And they weren’t just any masks, they were custom made by Wood and her family.
“Lisa (Roberts, Grandview’s principal) contacted me and said it looks like we’re going to have a graduation in late July and everybody is going to need masks, can you make them for us?’” Wood told the Sentinel. “It was truly an effort by just about everybody in the house.
“All the kids were invested in it. It’s kind of who we are as a family. If somebody needs something, everybody pitches in to help.”
Roberts knew the ask to get masks was a big one, but she made the request to the right person.
“Tari is one of the busiest people I know, but as the saying goes, ‘When you want something done, ask a busy person,’” said Roberts, who gave Wood a shout out during her speech.
“Tari juggles everything so well, and she leads with her heart. This was truly a labor of love for her. She cares about all of our students.”
Wood was on a visit in Ohio with a family friend from college, who happens to be a public health lawyer — when the pandemic went full-blown. They began discussing the need that would be coming for masks, but most centered on the demand that likely would come from hospitals.
So when Wood returned home from the trip — which saw her daughter Mia denied a chance to win a national title when the NCAA Division II championships were canceled mid-meet — she set about making masks with her mother, 90-year-old Dee Gustafson, who came to live with the family when quarantine began.
The Wood family made masks for hospitals, friends and Grandview staff for quite some time — in part as a fundraiser to help April and Mia pay rent before their jobs began after their graduation from the Colorado School of Mines — but the school masks provided a unique challenge.
The masks included three elements, a Grandview’s wolf logo — which Wood had for making uniforms and clothing for soccer — along with “Grandview 2020” and “One Pack” logo. Each of the three elements were printed and cut out by family members and then heat-pressed onto the masks sewed by Wood and her mother.
After a month and a half of work — going a little slower than their goal of making 50 per day — the Woods were able to provide the school with over 700 masks in three different sizes (medium, large and extra large) and all were on display at the graduation ceremony.
The unique Grandview masks have stood out during the recent graduation season, where masks have been a requirement for participation and graduates have been limited to two guests in the stands. Aurora Public Schools completed its graduations last week, while Cherry Creek Schools have them scheduled daily through Aug. 1.
Some schools have had makes with their logos printed on them, while other graduation ceremonies have allowed graduates to provide their own masks.