Students Support First Responders in Art Contest

Junior Emily Kretschmer raises awareness about the mental health of first responders with an art contest.


This is an art piece by senior Taya Carlson, for the First Responder’s Art Contest (Oct. 9, 2018).

You’re sound asleep in your bed, sleeping peacefully until you hear the crash of a vase. Your house is getting robbed; you dial 911, and within minutes the police have been alerted. Crime, fire, and general emergencies are inevitable, but thanks to first responders (Police, Firefighters, 911 Dispatch, Emergency Medical Services), we can all rest a lot easier knowing these brave people are always on watch. But who watches over the first responders themselves? First responders suffer from more mental health challenges, PTSD rates, and they are 10 times more likely to die from suicide than other work-related cause, according to Fire Rescue 1.

This is where junior Emily Kretschmer comes in. Partnering with Status: Code 4, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to addressing this serious issue, Kretschmer hopes to spread awareness and create a network of support in the community for these everyday heroes.

“I thought that by having art students develop artwork to be used on the flyers and posters advertising the event, I could spread awareness regarding my topic and engage members of my community,” said Kretschmer. 

Kretschmer, currently an Ambassador-level Girl Scout, is in the act of receiving a Girl Scout Gold Award through this project. The flyer contest’s purpose was to advertise a documentary series she is involved in called “Lifeline.” The event is private for local first responders and their families and will be Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018.

Kretschmer says she was inspired by the efforts of firefighters to protect her house and elementary school in the Waldo Canyon Fire, as well as her participation in the National Art Honor Society.

Many of you may have already heard of this contest due to the flyers spread around the school. Although the deadline was Sept. 17, 2018, there are still ways to help, including individual efforts like Kretschmer’s or participating in community events.

On the subject of involvement, Lisa Preeshl, our art teacher, played a significant part in helping to inform the student body; she encouraged her students to get involved.

Assistant Principal Robin Koldenhoven also assisted in approving the contest to be advertised and gave Kretschmer the opportunity to speak to a Sources of Strength assembly.

I have really appreciated the enthusiasm from school administration members, all of the art teachers and the participating art students,” said Kretschmer. 

The visual arts teachers include Preeshl, April Mullinix, and Jonny O’Lonergan.

Half of the submissions received will be used to make flyers, banners, and other media surrounding the event. Students’ and staff’s support in this project were vital to its success. Coming together as a community to bring awareness of mental health in our first responders can make all the difference.

Special thanks to Kretschmer for raising awareness and leaving a lasting impression upon Air Academy High School with her dedication to supporting our first responders.