If Mrs. Molly Raabe and Mrs. Karen Coolidge are not around to greet students as they walk into the Haddix Academic Center, their elaborate Cricut designed displays always seem to do the trick. The crafty energy, bright colored posters and mesmerizing fonts illuminate the creative spirit of both beloved faculty members. This yin and yang friendship has developed over the years since the library’s purchase of a Cricut Explorer in 2014 and benefits from this shared hobby of “cricutting.”
A Cricut is a computer-controlled cutting machine that Raabe first used as a Spanish teacher at St. Pius X/St. Leo School. “When I was there with the kindergartners, the teachers got a Cricut machine through a fundraiser,” Raabe said. “When the kids were learning the alphabet, we cut out 12 by 12 inch letters to teach them.” Raabe said that if her students were going to space out in the classroom, why not have them space out at a wall that’s going to teach them something. Raabe brought this creative attitude with her when she transitioned to Marian full time in 2011.
A few years in, Raabe had some extra money in the library budget and decided to purchase a Cricut machine to use at Marian.Raabe has since used the Cricut to create designs for bulletin boards, library displays, stickers and Field Day committees. Her creative work with the Cricut has attracted students and teachers alike, Mrs. Coolidge in particular. “When I came to Marian, Mrs. Raabe was talking about this Cricut, and I’m like, you have a Cricut? And she started showing me the things it could do, and I was hooked immediately,” Coolidge said. When Raabe first showed Coolidge the Cricut, “Her eyes got big, and I’m like, she gets me,” Raabe said.
Raabe and Coolidge enjoy working on Cricut projects together. “I love how we get excited about projects,” Coolidge said, “Mrs. Raabe is 100 percent supportive of trying new things, and we are both pretty nerdy.”
What may seem “nerdy” is actually a combination of complex skills. To use the Cricut effectively, one must know how to weld, attach, upload an image and design around it using the Cricut software and machine. Raabe and Coolidge are still experimenting with the Cricut and learning along the way. When they hit a snag, they work to figure out the problem. “I’ll come back to Mrs. Raabe and say ‘Hey, watch this video. It’s the solution to our problem last week,’” Coolidge said. “Cricutting is a small part of our job, but it’s a fun part of our job,” Raabe concluded.
The Cricut is not meant for mass cutting, but rather small scale projects. For example, Dr. Sharon Genoways, coach of the Robotics Team, used the Cricut to personalize the team’s jackets. She ordered solid blue jackets for the robotics team and then made iron on logos with her Cricut at home.
Recently, Senior Ola Hezel created personalized clipboards for swim and dive coach Mr. BJ Christiansen. “Every year, the seniors on the swim team make or buy gifts for the coaches, and earlier this season, BJ dropped his clipboard on the ground at practice and it broke,” Hezel said, “so I bought some blue clipboards on Amazon and cut out designs on the Cricut with the Marian shield, and underneath, it says Coach BJ.” A second clipboard says “Marian Crusaders Class of 2021.”
This was Hezel’s first time using the Cricut, and she wants to use it again. “It was super fun, and I loved it. Mrs. Raabe and Mrs. Coolidge helped me a lot,” Hezel said. The clipboards were presented to Mr. Christiansen on Feb. 23.
In a series of Cricut classes led by Raabe and Coolidge throughout the month of March, students set up their own Cricut accounts and were taught the basics of using the machine. “We went through the process of cutting, and we watched Youtube videos,” Raabe said. “We also made iPad stickers for practice!” Raabe and Coolidge both believe that the Cricut takes practice. “You have to play with it,” Coolidge said.
A permanent home for the Cricut has been made on the west side of the Haddix in the second office from the left. Raabe and Coolidge both wanted a space where the Cricut could be connected permanently without having to store it after use. “We needed a space where more than one person could come, because I love sitting down with girls and creating together,” Raabe said. According to Coolidge, “Everything is at our fingertips in this room. I never would have dreamt that we would be creating the things we are now!”
Using the Cricut requires outside of the box thinking and a time commitment to learning the cricutting process. However, Raabe and Coolidge said that Marian girls are prepared for the challenge and encourage anyone interested to email them to schedule up a time to use the machines. Marian currently has the Cricut Explorer, Cricut Maker, and the Cricut EasyPress, along with a variety of tools and mats ready to be used by creative students.