Putting their emerging skills together with a creative eye and a heart for law enforcement, Andover High School technical education students and robotics club members fabricated a commemorative flag for the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s really such an honor to be able to do something for these guys, and our students have really enjoyed working on it,” said Dale Johnson, head of the school’s woodworking, engineering and design department and robotics club coach.
The 42- by 80-inch white birch plaque resembles the American flag. Students inlaid 50 retired badges as stars. Black and white wood tones were used for stripes to represent the fallen. One blue stripe symbolizes the safeguarding presence of law enforcement, the “thin blue line between us and trouble,” Johnson said.
Students got together after school to work on the project, something near and dear to many.
“This is so important because these guys protect us. Without them the world would be a lot scarier,” said 10th grader Zach Hutchins.
His fellow robotics club member Zach Naffziger, a junior, agreed. “This means a lot. Without them it would be chaos, and they get the least recognition, so I want to do something for them,” he said. “I also want to do something for my country. I want to be in Army Reserves; my brother wants to be a police officer. I know what these guys do for us, and I wanted to do something for them.”
Together 27 students, instructor Johnson, his fellow robotics club coaches Frank Kratochvill and Mike Hecker and mentors from Dynamic Sealing Technologies,Inc. devoted some 30 to 40 man-hours over six weeks’ time to complete the project.
“We have so much capability – we have some really talented students here – and we have lots of machines to use. It’s really an honor to be asked by the sheriff to do this,” Johnson said.
Eagerly putting their technical skills to use with a keen knack for problem-solving and a passion “to build stuff,” members of Andover’s robotics club, the Butler Bots, used a table saw and router, power hand tools and a spray gun to fabricate the flag. In addition, they used a CNC router to cut the stars in which to lay the badges and to fashion letters for the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office motto, “honor, sacrifice, pride.”
Sheriff Deputy Thomas Strusinski said the plaque is an important memorial for fallen officers throughout the country.
“This is very meaningful for us to be able to install this flag in memory of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement,” he said.
The plaque will be installed at the sheriff’s office at a to-be-determined time, and will serve as a constant reminder of the proud sacrifices made to protect and serve the community.