Students shown in photo above, from left, include, Dan, Brian, Drew, Nick, Steven, Camby, David, Britt and Ian. Photo Paul Garrod
By Paul Garrod
PAW PAW - A group of second-hour math students at Paw Paw High School recently took part in a nation-wide quilting project to honor fallen United States soldiers of the Iraq war.
The group of nine students completed the quilt, which will be shipped to Florida, where a picture of a fallen soldier will be placed on the quilt, then given to family members.
The idea for the project came from Dawn Kucerak, the students' para-pro, who first heard of the project during a segment of the school's Channel I news presentation (Channel I provides news programs to school districts during the school week).
Inspired by the program, Mrs. Kucerak made a quilt and brought it to show the students, "not knowing what it was going to start," she said.
The students were impressed with her quilt and wanted to make one of their own.
Work on the class quilt began in late January, with many students anxious to take part in the project.
"It was pretty fun," said one student, Ian.
Through a 19-step check-off sheet process, the students used several math skills that they had learned to cut out pattern pieces, arrange fabric pieces in a desired patterns, and finally sew the pieces to the quilt.
Using two sewing machines, with one brought in by teacher Sharon Schipper, the students, David, Steven, Brian, Brittany, Dan, Nick, Drew, Ian and Camby began to piece together the 12-quilt blocks.
Camby and Brett had previous sewing experience, while many of the others experienced sewing for the first time. Each student had the same five fabric pieces and designed their own quilt block so "each one is not identical," said Mrs. Kucerak. Only the center block of each quilt piece is the same in all blocks.
"It was a real group project," said Mrs. Schipper.
Mrs. Kucerak's son, Dan, was recently stationed in Iraq. While on leave Feb. 4 -19, Dan visited the class and told of his experiences overseas.
In completing the project, the students each stitched their names on the back of the quilt, which reads, "Made with care by Paw Paw, Mich."
To purchase materials to make the quilt, the students enlisted in a variety of activities around the school, from collecting pop cans to helping school janitors.
"(It will help with) future job employment, said Britt, one of the students. The janitors in turn, write letters of recommendations for the students.
Learning pre-vocational skills, the students also learn about "attitude and commitment," said Mrs. Schipper.
Commenting on the accomplishment of making a quilt, David, another student, said, "it makes me happy."
He added, "All of the soldiers went to Iraq. That made me feel more patriotic than I have ever been....I would fight for my country."
Another student, Ian, said the quilt, "will make the families happy."
Shipping the quilt to Florida, the students also wrote letters to be included with the quilt.
Some of the students in the class have a relative that is in-volved in some type of military service.
Ian has a brother who recently left for Army basic training, while Nick, another student, has a cousin, Brian in the military.
"We hope it will bring comfort to the families that have lost a loved one," said Lorrie Henson, a classroom para-pro.
Operation Homefront Quilts began last spring through the efforts of Jessica Porter of Hudson, Fla.
While quilting and watching the Iraq war on TV last spring, Porter and a friend decided to sew a quilt for the family of each soldier killed.
To date, more than 500 American soldiers have died in the war.
©Courier Leader 2004
Paw Paw Courier-Leader
P.O. Box 129
32280 E. Red Arrow Hwy.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-3072 or (269) 657-5080
FAX (269) 657-5723
For more information about Operation Homefront Quilt, contact:
12637 Sugar Creek Blvd.
Hudson, FL 34669
“Operation Homefront Quilts is a project to send a quilt to the immediate families of each U.S. service person killed in action during the conflict in Iraq. We hope to provide support and love to these families through the comfort of a home-made quilt.”