Around the ArchdioceseStewardship

St. Matthew School parent creates, donates new cross

Artist ‘gives back’ through project; daughter helps

By Katie Mills Giorgio
Witness Correspondent

CEDAR RAPIDS — A couple of weeks ago, the students and staff at St. Matthew Elementary School gathered in the school’s main hallway for a beginning of the school year prayer service.

They all looked up and admired the new cross hanging in the main school hallway, serving as a striking greeting for anyone entering the school.

The cross was handcrafted by St. Matthew parent and talented artist Scott Takes, who donated it to the school along with his family.

Takes, a nearly self-taught airbrush artist who owns Underground Studios in Cedar Rapids, had been thinking for some time about a way to share his artistic talents with his children’s school.

“A while back I had a good customer, one who always comes to me with really cool projects, ask me to create a cross for him and his wife to give to his daughter who was graduating,” Takes said. “We designed this cross, and we both couldn’t get over how neat it was. I told him I wanted to do another one because I loved the way it turned out.”

That’s when Takes knew he needed to make one for St. Matthew School.

The cross itself — made with aluminum donated by Marion Iron Company and wood crafted by Driscoll Cabinet & Furniture Company — took Takes about a week to create. He painted a Scripture verse on it, perhaps Takes’ favorite part of the project. “It is very powerful. I thought what a neat message it would be for my kids and their friends and the teachers and everybody at school to see that cross up on the wall with that Scripture message on it.”

School principal Joe Wolf said he was blown away when he saw the cross for the first time. “You think about one sharing their time, talent and treasure. Here Scott shared of his time in creating the cross, and that is just impressive. The talent he has shared is unbelievable. And it’s a treasure to have this cross now hanging in our school. It’s the first thing visitors will see when they walk in. It’s just amazing to see how much people will give of themselves. You just can’t put a price on something like this.”

Since the cross went up and the school shared the story via social media, Wolf said he has had so many comments from people about what a wonderful addition to the school it is. “It has already touched so many people. The detail on the cross when you get up close to it is phenomenal,” he added.

Takes said it is especially meaningful to have the cross hanging at school while his children are still being taught there.

He recalled walking through the hall the other day with his son Cooper who is currently in preschool at St. Matt’s. “As we were walking past the cross, he said, ‘Dad, can I tell you something?’ Then he walked over and pointed to the cross and said, ‘Some days when I am feeling sad, I just look at the cross, and it makes me feel better.’ That’s why I did it. In a selfish way, I wanted to share a little of my talent with the school and let my kids share in that too.”

Takes’ daughter Zoey, a second-grader at St. Matthew School, even helped with the project. “She is super creative, and she loves coming down here to my shop every day after school. She has helped with a lot of different projects, but it was special that she helped with this.”

The cross, signed with their ­family names, is a gift he is pleased to have ­given to the school.

“My oldest daughter Katie is no longer at St. Matt’s, having gone on to middle school, but I appreciate what they did for her when she was in school there. The staff at St. Matt’s is great, and Mr. Wolf is outstanding. This cross is like leaving a thank you card that has our family’s name on it.”

Takes, who has done a wide variety of projects from painting murals at local businesses to painting motorcycles, said he hopes there are more projects like the cross in his future. “Every day I work on projects, and a lot of it has to do with paying the bills,” he said. “I just want to give back. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a while; it was time.”

Students and staff at St. Matthew School are very grateful the time had come.


Scott Takes, holding son Cooper, with his wife, Michelle; daughter Zoey, a second-grader at St. Matthew School; and Takes’ parents, Mary Lu and Frank Takes. (Contributed photo)