Aloha, Hawaiian Shirt Thursdays: In Memory of Rick Nees


Haylee Brewer

Dan Carolin (in the middle) and his squad pose in their Hawaiian shirts.

On Thursday, a few students and teachers were wearing Hawaiian shirts. It’s not a coincidence. It’s all because of one man that changed peoples lives and reminds us to stay groovy.

Rick Nees, math teacher at Kennedy High School, was always looking for a way to put a smile on everyone’s face, and started wearing Hawaiian shirts on Thursdays about 5 years ago. Sadly, Nees was unable to carry on the tradition when he passed away in a car crash on Thanksgiving day last year.

“A long time ago during the winter time, Nees had said something about wearing Hawaiian Shirts. It was a Nees thing. It was positive. In the middle of (an) Iowa winter lets just start rocking some Hawaiian t-shirts,” said George Anderson, teacher at Kennedy High School.

In response, a few teachers at Kennedy have decided to keep the tradition going by wearing these shirts. They hope that this will help keep Nees’ spirit alive around the school.

“It’s a good memory we can bring to the table, for building culture at Kennedy,” said Anderson. “It’s good to remember colleagues that we’ve had that have passed away or have moved onto other passions.”

Nees is remembered by his soul. He always had time to help make someone’s day better and was ready to be your friend. Nees was a safe haven for many students.

“By continuing this tradition without him it reminds us of the important stuff he taught us about, listening to people about communication, and about always trying to brighten someone’s day,” said Dan Carolin, Japanese teacher Kennedy.

All students and teachers are encouraged to wear bright, colorful Hawaiian shirts on Thursdays. By wearing these shirts we remember Nees’ bright, colorful personality and how he was always willing to put everyone before himself.

“You know when your wearing a Hawaiian t-shirt you gotta be in a better mood. Bright flower print are just gonna put you in a better mood anyway,” said Carolin.