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Underground Railroad is hands-on learning for class of 2025


                                                                     Photo by Christy Porter
It takes a great deal of concentration and many workers to create an Underground Railroad   quilt.

By Christy Porter
Managing Editor

 (Following the article is a slideshow of additional photos.)

The past few weeks, sixth-grade students at Licking Elementary have enthusiastically been constructing the Class of 2025’s Underground Railroad quilt, with the help of volunteers and under the supervision of Michelle Meizler, their social studies teacher.
An ongoing tradition in hands-on learning is being continued with the multi-part Underground Railroad project. This year, the first for Meizler, is a commitment to Brad Cooper, Principal, that this particular project would be continued.
Another first says Meizler, “The students are all working on the project voluntarily, eleven out of eighty students, and they are excited about the construction and learning.”
Photo by Christy Porter
Margaret Burch smiles as Titus Scavone 
successfully stitches his Jacob’s Ladder block.
The students are learning about the Civil War in class, which includes the study of slavery. The quilt block designs that are being used in the quilt all served as markers by the slaves on their way to freedom.
After completion of their blocks, scheduled Feb. 5, the students will write reports detailing their experience and the history of their particular block design and what it meant to the slaves. These reports will be compiled into a book.
Initially, the students learn about the codes and what they mean; they then choose a pattern. With the help of talented volunteers, they make a paper pattern, add a 1/4–inch seam allowance and transfer it to a cardboard pattern. From beginning to end, the block is handmade and done the “old-fashioned” way. They also construct a paper quilt block, which will act as a guide for them while making the fabric block.
Says Meizler, “It’s very neat doing the hand sewing, I had only ever done a quilt top by machine sewing. For the kids, this is neat because they’re doing the whole process start to finish by hand.”
The next step is choosing fabric, tracing the pattern onto the fabric, and then cutting the pieces out. The students then learn how to thread a needle, make a knot and sew a relatively straight line. With these basics, they construct their pieces into a quilt block following their paper quilt block design.
                                Photo by Christy Porter
“It is hard,” exclaims Logan Stines as Suzie Blackburn 
helps with a redo on his Log Cabin block. 
Says Blackburn, “You have to stay on top of it.”
Logan Stines exuberantly says, “It’s very fun to sew except when you stab your finger.”
Kadyn Hall, who’s making the Monkey Wrench block, says, “It’s fun.”
Allie Medlock is working on the Bow Tie block and Aubrey Gorman is doing the Dutchman’s Puzzle.
Monday afternoon’s group also includes: Kale Cook, making the Bear Paw, who says, “Pretty neat, and I’m good at it.”
Titus Scavone says, “I think it’s awesome, meeting nice people, learning how to sew, and I can fix things.”
“I think it’s pretty cool learning about the Civil War and new techniques on how to sew,” says Abbigail Massie, who’s making the Shoo Fly.
Photo by Christy Porter
Abbigail Massie, along with fellow students and volunteers, expressed 
great excitement when she threaded her needle after several attempts.



Ashlee Umfleet, Zoey Dawson, Dalton Drennen and Madison Mitchell make up Tuesday afternoon’s group.
“In the fourteen or so years I supervised the project, I’ve discovered that boys are better sewers than girls,” say Suzie Blackburn.
Blackburn is a volunteer with the group this year; additional volunteers include Margaret Burch, Jan Rensch, Reggia Ward and Carolyn Wulff.
The quilt blocks are assembled or set together by a volunteer helper, this year Carolyn Wulff, and the quilt top is quilted by a volunteer.
During the student’s senior year, the quilt and the book will be auctioned off on Rodeo Saturday to benefit the Texas County Museum of Art and History.
The most common comment heard was the stabbing of fingers, but then there were no thimbles to be seen anywhere.
This group of students are here because they want to be and they are doing a great job learning history and quilt making.

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