DSHS students step into business world with homecoming mums

With scissors and ribbon in hand, Dripping Springs senior Grace Yowell and junior Ashley Jenson hunched over a table and shot hot glue to an incomplete mum.

The two sat at a table completely covered with maroon and gold, as well as shiny Class of 2018, Class of 2021, Class of 2020 ribbons, tiger emblems, and white plastic flowers.

“We wanted to bring the homecoming spirit to everyone,” said Christy Trussell, Floral Design teacher at Dripping Springs High School.

Handmade mums hang in wait of a sale at Dripping Springs High School. Tiger students have created mums for special need students and administrative professionals to pull everyone into the homecoming spirit. (photo by Maria Gardner)

“Everyone” includes administrative assistants, for whom students created finger mini mums.

Yowell, Jenson and others were completing part of an assignment that was given to students in the floral design course under the Career Academy program lead by Trussell.

The course is the first of its kind to be offered at the high school and challenges students to stick to a $25 budget for purchasing materials to create either a mum or a garter. 

During her evaluation of the mums, Trussell examines students’ creative and artistic side and their financial skills.

Students are required to create a financial analysis that includes the cost of materials, labor cost, which was determined by Texas minimum wage multiplied by the hours it took to make the project, and their profit percentage.

Homecoming mums are a Texas tradition. Dripping Springs Floral Design students create mums that include tigers, ribbons, bells and more. (photo by Maria Gardner)

She said the assignment helped students understand how prices are determined when they purchase a mum or other items from a business.  

Before gardenias and roses were on her mind, Trussell was the debate and speech coach and teacher with 20 years of experience preparing students for competition within the state and across the country, in elite places such as Harvard.  

Last year, after the Texas legislature stopped requiring speech as part of the curriculum for high school students. Trussell said she was looking for other opportunities to teach a subject full time.  

She took the necessary steps to earn the certification in teaching floral design and received the approval from the principal to offer the class.

Trussell said 150 students are enrolled in the course; she’s been surprised by the enthusiasm the students have shown.

Some students line up near the door after spending the period adding trinkets and the last touches to their mums and exit when the bell rings.

Yowell and Jenson, however, continue to work to reach their goal.

They have even skipped lunch to be sure the mums are completed in time.

For Yowell and Jenson, the want to work harder was forged by who the mums were going to.

Some students who finished creating their own mums for the assignment to on to create mums and garters for students with special needs.

Yowell’s initial idea was to make a mum for a student with special needs whom she peer tutors in physical education.

Then, shrugging her shoulders, she recalled thinking, “Why not just make all 14 of them?”

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